With places of work closed, tourism nearly nonexistent and airports practically empty, the pandemic has crushed New York Metropolis’s taxi trade, slashing income by 81 p.c from final yr, based on metropolis information.
“I can’t maintain on, not like this,” mentioned Vinod Malhotra, who owns his cab and has pushed for 27 years by terrorist assaults, pure disasters and financial calamities. “I could make it possibly yet one more month, possibly two.”
Journey-hailing firms, resembling Uber and Lyft, additionally took a success when town largely shut down within the spring. However they’ve bounced again extra rapidly. Income is now a few third decrease than final yr, and the chief govt of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, mentioned final week on a call with investors that metropolis ridership outdoors of commuting hours had returned to regular.
Bruce Schaller, a former metropolis transportation official, mentioned clients may be utilizing taxis much less as a result of they believed they had been extra of a well being threat, though that was not the case.
“I feel taxis really feel like extra of a public area than an Uber automotive or Lyft automotive,” he mentioned.
Virtually all drivers in each sector stopped working altogether in the course of the spring, when Covid-19 killed dozens of drivers. In a current survey by the New York Taxi Staff Alliance, practically half of drivers mentioned both they or somebody of their residence had contracted the virus.
Whereas many drivers had been out of labor, they relied on the federal authorities’s enhanced unemployment program, which paid $600 per week along with state advantages. However these federal advantages ended over the summer time, as did another packages that stored cabdrivers afloat, together with initiatives that paid taxi drivers to deliver meals to homes and supply rides for essential workers throughout in a single day subway closures.
Many cabdrivers have been reluctant to return to work. In September, the common variety of taxis working every day was solely about 30 p.c of what it was a yr earlier. A number of fleet homeowners mentioned that they had referred to as drivers to beg them to return, and a few mentioned that they had provided monetary incentives.
Self-employed drivers who purchased town permits, referred to as medallions, that permit them to personal and function cabs face a very acute disaster. As The New York Times has reported, many had been already squeezed earlier than the pandemic after having been channeled into taking out giant, exploitative loans to purchase their medallions.
In January, a metropolis job pressure proposed a $500 million bailout for drivers with such loans. In February, the New York State lawyer basic, Letitia A. James, mentioned her workplace would sue the city for $810 million and use the cash to compensate drivers.