Connect with us

Uber, lyft and other taxis

Body found floating in East River ID’d as cab driver struggling with depression



kenny chow

A body pulled from in the East River last week was identified as a despondent, financially troubled cabbie who vanished earlier this month.

Kenny Chow, 56, showed signs of depression in recent weeks as he struggled to earn enough cash to pay off a $700,000 loan on his taxi medallion, relatives said.

“We are in mourning today,” his brother and fellow cab driver Richard Chow said Saturday.

“My brother lost hope as many other medallion owners looking for justice and fairness have.”

Kenny Chow was last seen inside his yellow cab on E. 86th St. and East End Ave. on May 11.

For weeks, Chow’s family feared the worst when they couldn’t find the man who was forced to work longer hours for less pay amid the rise of Uber and other car-hailing apps.

Adding to his woes, Chow’s wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in October, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

The couple has a 21-year-old daughter.
The search for Chow came to a grim end on Wednesday morning when a decomposed body was spotted floating in the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Cops plucked the corpse from the water near Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights about 9:30 a.m.

The body was unrecognizable, requiring his family to supply the Medical Examiner with dental records in order to confirm the identity.

Chow’s cause of death wasn’t clear. The Medical Examiner’s Office did not return a request for comment Saturday.

But his family and colleagues expressed little doubt that Chow took his own life.

“Kenny’s family described him as a devoted father and husband who worked hard to provide for his loved ones,” said Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai.

“Kenny’s income plummeted in the last five years even as he worked increasingly grueling 14-hour-plus shifts desperate to make ends meet.”
Chow’s death comes amid a spate of taxi driver suicides.

At least four cabbies have taken their lives since December, according to the Taxi Workers Alliance.

Taxi advocates blame City Hall for allowing ride-hailing apps to take over the city leaving yellow cab drivers fending for scraps.

“Make no mistake: The crisis that took Kenny’s life and the lives of four other drivers pushed to suicide in recent months was entirely preventable,” Desai said.

Chow’s brother called on the city to take action in order to prevent the next taxi driver tragedy.

“NYC has to act as soon as possible on bringing fairness and a level playing field to the taxi industry before other medallion owners gets so depressed so that, out of desperation, they take their own life,” he said.


Uber, lyft and other taxis

Here’s Why I No Longer Feel Comfortable Taking Ubers With Male Drivers




female driver uber

I remember feeling relieved when ride-sharing apps hit the market a few years ago. When I first moved to New York in early 2012, fighting to get a cab back to Brooklyn from Manhattan was the ultimate hustle. First of all, hailing a cab in and of itself was its own obstacle. I learned from native New Yorkers that a lot of NYC taxi drivers hated picking up Black folk because they feared they wouldn’t pay the tab. Many yellow cab drivers would also not pick up Black people because they didn’t want to travel to the outer boroughs from beloved Manhattan. There were times I successfully grabbed a cab, and when I got inside and told them I was headed to Brooklyn the driver would illegally ask me to leave. It was a mess.

So when I learned of Uber and downloaded the app, I relished in its features. The glory of typing in my address (no more struggling with directions) and having a car pick me up right at my location had me lounging in convenience bliss.

However, the benefits of the handy app are quickly becoming outweighed by the current the fears I have when I decide to jump into a ride.

I’ve started to utilize the UBERPOOL feature more often recently because, well, I don’t have the money for my own ride. I noticed that the creepy vibe I get from male drivers began when I started sitting up front because fellow passengers were in the back. Somehow, sitting in the back gave me some sort of theoretical barrier between myself and the driver. But sitting in the front of a stranger’s personal car, with a man I don’t know, instantly felt uncomfortable.

When I was the last drop off in an UBERPOOL and sitting in the passengers seat, I noticed a lot of male drivers would start making comments about my physical appearance, my attire, or even go as far as asking for my number.
When we stop at red lights they would go “You’re just so beautiful, I don’t know what to do.” Or “I wish I had a lady like you.” Or “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Fortunately, my experiences have stopped at just harrasing comments, but I couldn’t help but feel fearful and vulnerable as I sat in the dark in a car with a man who has total control over our destination. I’ve heard other horror stories from my girlfriends, from being sent unsolicited d*ck pics, to someone reaching out to touch them. Hell, I even heard a story of a woman being locked in the car by an Uber drive for refusing to give him her number.

These personal anecdotes are compounded by actual data that shows 103 Uber drivers in the country have been accused of a form of sexual assault in the past four years, according to CNN.

While the app’s execs insist they run background checks and eliminate candidates who have serious criminal convictions, it’s clear that there needs to be a deeper vetting process into who they allow to drive around passengers. I’ve noticed little changes on the app like prompts that ask “are you ok” if your car has been stalled too long, or allowing passengers to designate an emergency contact, but I am having a hard time seeing how those small modifications would actually help in a crisis. We deserve more.
In the gap between fear and progress, I am hopeful female driver/female passenger only apps, like one being used in New Delhi, India, will pave the way for similar models in the US.

Shailja Mittal created ride sharing service Koala Kabs because she didn’t want her daughter riding alone in the car with male drivers. In Pakistan, there is a similar female catering car service called Pink Taxi. The option to opt out of being driven by men is definitely something I would buy into, whatever the cost. Nothing is more valuable than my safety. My life.


Continue Reading

Uber, lyft and other taxis

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers




uber lyft taxi

Rideshare drivers in New York City may soon be covered by a new rule that guarantees they get paid a minimum wage equivalent of $17.22 per hour, Fast Company reports.

Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via, and other rideshare companies operating in New York City currently have more than 80,000 drivers. Drivers for Uber and Lyft, in particular, have been embroiled in controversies with taxi drivers, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), and their own companies.
Previous issues between drivers and rideshare companies centered on expense reimbursement and the drivers’ employee versus independent contractor status. The TLC’s set of proposed rules address both issues.

The line between employee and contractor status is often blurred in the U.S., despite the Internal Revenue Service’s 20 Factor Test to determine the difference. In general, compensation and expense reimbursement are contractual items not covered by federal, state, or municipal employee laws.

The TLC‘s proposed rule results from efforts by the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), a New York City nonprofit organization. The Guild has been working for two years on behalf of rideshare drivers to convince the TLC to change the compensation rules for rideshare companies and drivers. The first win in the IDG’s campaign was the TLC’s support for driver pay in line with the city’s $15 per hour minimum wage.

Pushback from drivers on the $15 hourly rate focused on driver expenses. Uber, Lyft, and other companies do not reimburse drivers for vehicle expenses including fuel and maintenance nor do they pay for mileage or time spent driving to passenger pick-up location or when drivers return from long trips after passenger drop off.

The TLC’s proposed $17.22 hourly minimum compensation plan adds $2.22 to the area’s $15 per hour minimum wage to account for driver expenses and unpaid travel associated with paid rides.

The TLC also proposed another rule that could benefit existing drivers and reduce traffic on city streets. A one-year moratorium on new licenses for all types of for-hire vehicle drivers would pause the addition of new drivers who respond to rideshare companies’ incessant recruiting efforts on New York City streets. When new drivers try the business, even if they quit after a short time, the extra cars add to congestion and diminish opportunities to give rides to established drivers.

Fast Company reported that Uber and Lyft both pushed back against the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s new rules. The companies argue that the proposed regulations would result in lower driver compensation and increased rider fares.


Continue Reading

Uber, lyft and other taxis

Taxi driver dies after setting himself on fire to protest carpool app





A South Korean taxi driver set himself on fire and died Monday to protest a carpooling service proposed by a company that operates the country’s most popular chat app.

The 57-year-old driver doused himself in a flammable liquid and then lit his clothing while sitting in a taxi near parliament, police and the fire department said.

Unionized taxi drivers have held rallies in the capital, Seoul, to protest the carpooling app proposed by Kakao Mobility, which they say threatens their jobs.

Kakao Mobility, the transportation service arm of top mobile messenger operator Kakao Corp., said Friday it was testing the carpooling app despite opposition from taxi drivers who want the government to refuse permission for the service.

“We are still in the middle of a tug-of-war against the government to stop the carpool service,” said an official at the Korea National Joint Conference of Taxi Association.

A spokeswoman for Kakao Mobility said the company extended its sympathies to the family of the taxi driver.

“We feel sorry and sad and express our condolences,” the spokeswoman said. She declined further comment.

The transport ministry was not immediately available for comment.


Continue Reading