“The pandemic has shut down the areas of the economy most foundational to yellow taxi service – tourism, business travel, commuting, Broadway and live events – and ridership is still down nearly 80%. Yet, right now, on top of the crushing debt, pandemic-related losses and pre-pandemic diminished market share, taxi owners and drivers are facing a new financial hurdle: a vehicle crisis.

“The average cost of a taxi is $30,000. An arbitrary, pre-pandemic, pre-Uber Taxi & Limousine Commission regulation mandates that taxis must be replaced every seven years, regardless of whether the vehicle has passed all its inspections or even if it has not been on the road at all for months. No owner-driver or fleet is in the financial position to purchase new taxis. Even if they were, banks – still reeling from losses in the medallion industry – are not providing financing for taxi vehicle purchases.

“Yet the TLC still requires the replacement of the vehicles unless owners are able to show a ‘hardship.’ [So], taxi owners whose investment has plummeted to underwater status, whose ridership have been decimated by two successive crises and who have risked their health and safety to serve the riding public during the pandemic are being asked to prove a hardship in order to obtain the privilege of simply extending the life of their taxicab – a vehicle that passes stringent inspections and which owners cannot afford to replace. Proof of hardship has a name: Covid-19.

“There is a simple solution to this problem, which is exclusively a yellow taxi problem, as livery vehicles and Ubers have no mandatory retirement age: Extend the mandatory retirement dates for all taxicabs until the pandemic is over and the industry bounces back, provided they pass inspection. This is compassionate and sensible, and it would protect the safety of the riding public.”

Ron Sherman, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade

Source: Crain’s New York Business