New York City taxi owner-drivers protested in front of City Hall for 46 days and approximately a dozen of them conducted a hunger strike that lasted 15 days, camping out by the front gate. Joining the taxi “drivers” were Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Niki, Zohar Mamdani and City council member Shahana Hanif.
Before any more yellow taxi drivers could die from additional suicides or hunger, a deal was made between the owner-drivers represented by the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance’s Bhairavi Desai, Marblegate (the largest medallion lender), and the city of New York – with some help from United States Senator Charles Schumer.
We all remember “Chuck” Schumer, whose wife Iris Weinshall told me that her father drove a yellow cab. (Mrs. Schumer, a former non-paid Taxi & Limousine Commissioner, is now the COO of the NY Public Library, after being sent to political purgatory at City University – where some political folks looking for a job end up – and where she became vice chancellor. She went to the city university after a stint as New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner, which was responsible for the Staten Island Ferry crash that killed 11 passengers in 2005.)
The newly brokered medallion deal gives Marblegate $30,000 for each medallion loan, and in exchange, Marblegate reduced their medallion loan balances to $200,000 less the $30,000, leaving a loan debt of $170,000 per medallion, which is also guaranteed by New York City. The average driver supposedly owed Marblegate $500,000.
By reducing the debt to $170,000, monthly payments are reduced to $1,122 per month. It was not uncommon for medallion owners to pay between $3,500-$5,000 per month prior to this deal.
This DOES NOT save every medallion owner, since Marblegate only represents less than 60% of all medallion loans. Many medallion owners purchasing medallions at the last city auction paid up to $1.1 million and most had debt of approximately $800,000. Some owners who did not go bankrupt or lose their medallion in a repo/foreclosure may find reluctance by the other lenders representing the “other” 40% of medallion loans, to reduce their principal balance, unless another deal is in the works with City Hall.
Here’s food for thought: An $800,000 loan for 20 years at 5% requires monthly payments of $5,279, as compared with the new $1,122 capped loan payments negotiated by the city and Marblegate at 5% for 20 years.
Some chanted: “No more suicides” after the deal was announced. I truly hope that other medallion owners receive similar deals with their lenders, so we never hear of another taxi driver suicide.
Are YOU a medallion owner who does not have a Marblegate loan? Tell us your feelings and story. You can reach me via email at: email@example.com or email our editor, Neil Weiss at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This deal will probably cost the city $100 million, although it may be more – but don’t forget that the city took in close to $900 million from the last medallion auctions.
Congratulations to those hard-working taxi drivers who are benefiting from this deal. We all always believed that New York City was our partner and had our backs, now Marblegate also has that honor.