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Cabbies protest fare hikes outside Cuomo’s Manhttan office

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For-hire and taxi drivers chanting “no more tax on drivers’ backs” gathered outside Gov. Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Sunday to protest the congestion pricing plan that went into effect over the weekend.

“You might as well lock ‘em up in camps because that’s what you’re doing to them economically,” said Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “This is a stab in the back and this really hurts. They have been the economic heartbeat of NYC for generations.”

The drivers said they’re having to bear the brunt of the surcharge even though they’re already suffering financially.

“It means that now everyday they’ll deduct $80 – I make only about $120 a day!” said 59-year-old Mohammed Ali of The Bronx, who’s been driving for 15 years. “I have five kids. How do I survive?

“How do I feed my kids?”

“You’re using the cab as a cash cow for the city. Instead of putting sensible taxes — if there is such a thing – they’re putting it on the backs of cab drivers,” William Lindauer, 75, who retired after driving a cab for 30 years, said at the hour-long rally attended by about 100 people.

Protesters held up signs that said, “Could you survive a $15,000 pay cut?” and shouted “Stop killing drivers” and “Congestion pricing is my bankruptcy” outside Cuomo’s office in Murray Hill.
Three taxi owners and five drivers killed themselves last year, leading some in the industry to refer to the increased fee as a “suicide tax.”

The surcharge suddenly took effect Saturday after a State Supreme Court judge last Thursday lifted a restraining order as part of the taxi industry’s lawsuit to block the plan.

It was originally set to roll out on Jan. 1.
The surcharges affect all rides south of 96th Street.

Fares will increase by $2.50 for taxis and $2.75 a ride for Uber, Lyft and other app companies — though that drops to $.75 for riders who request shared rides.

For black cars, it increases $2.75.

Cuomo has said the surcharge is “necessary” to raise funds for the MTA and reduce congestion in Manhattan.

His office estimates the extra fee will raise $1 million a day to fix the troubled subway system.

Source: https://nypost.com/2019/02/03/cabbies-protest-fare-hikes-outside-cuomos-manhttan-office/

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

New York Driver Jason Mendez Accused of Purposefully Running Over Family of Eight, Killing Mom

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An angry New York state driver intentionally ran over a family of eight—including an infant in a stroller—leaving the pregnant mom dead, officials in Rockland County said. Jason Mendez, 35, is accused of purposefully driving into the two adults and six children Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Haverstraw.

Investigators say Mendez was infuriated following some kind of argument—possibly stemming from the husband asking Mendez not to blow cigarette smoke near the children. After he drove into the family, police say he backed up and hit them again. When cops arrived, the man was allegedly holding a knife and, after refusing to drop it, was tasered.

The family was rushed to nearby hospitals. The mother—later named on a GoFundMe page as Melissa Castillo DeLoatch—was pronounced dead while her 35-year-old husband and their six children, all under the age of 10, sustained non-life threatening injuries. Mendez was charged with second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Source: https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-york-driver-accused-of-purposefully-running-over-family-of-eight-killing-mom

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For-hire drivers are fearful of new congestion tax

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Traveling from point to point, here to there, just got more expensive in New York City.

New York State has mandated congestion pricing surcharges of $2.50 be added to yellow and green taxis, limousines, black cars and livery rides and an added $2.75 be billed to riders looking to call an Uber or other for-hire vehicles.

Congestion pricing comes as a way for the state to help raise money by taxing taxi drivers to help fix New York city’s aging transit system, ease traffic in Manhattan and encourage the use of public transit. But many taxi and for-hire drivers in the city, many of whom are Black Caribbean and African immigrants, are frustrated and feel that their livelihoods are being attacked.

“To say I’m frustrated is an understatement—I’m mad as hell,” said Eusi Grannum, an Uber driver who is from Guyana. “I use Uber to supplement my paycheck. It’s definitely a boost to add funds in your pocket, but now I feel no one is going to want to catch a ride ‘cause it’s going to be expensive.”

Grannum said he supports his two kids in Guyana as things aren’t as easy there so they depend on the money that he sends home.

“That money I send to them is used for their upkeep, school expenses mainly, living expenses—they’re young so they want to go out—and it’s for their mom to keep her head above water.”

He remains optimistic that because of the shape the subway is in people will still turn to taxis and for-hire vehicles.

“I guess that’s what the governor and the state want for people, to turn back to the subways and buses, but they suck, often delayed and crowed to the max,” he said. “But I see it as that people need to get around. The subways don’t do that effectively; taxis and Ubers do so people will stick with us.”

In a blog post by Uber, they said that they agreed with decreasing traffic in New York City but that the policy shouldn’t fall to their employees but to all vehicles entering the city.

“We agree that street congestion is a problem in NYC, but we believe the best way to address it is through the adoption of a comprehensive congestion pricing plan that is applied to all personal vehicles, trucks and commercial vehicles, not just FHVs [for hire vehicles] and taxis.”

A group of taxi drivers sued to block the congestion policy, saying that the price increase would eventually lead to a collapse of the taxi and for-hire business.

“I also make a living off driving, and for them to put this on our backs is not right at all,” said Winston Blake, a Jamaican livery driver. “I came here to make a better life for myself and that money goes straight to living expenses. Of course, people back home are asking you to send this and send that and you want to do it for them.”
A State Supreme Court judge rejected the motion by the taxi drivers citing that taxi drivers did not demonstrate irreparable injury because the congestion policy would fall on the backs of their customers. But the order didn’t completely kill the taxi driver’s lawsuit.

Source: http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2019/feb/21/-hire-drivers-are-fearful-new-congestion-tax/

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Uber Sues NYC For Introducing A Cap On New Driver Licenses

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Last Friday, Uber sued the New York City for imposing a yearlong cap on allotting new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles. Uber took this step against the New York City Council’s vote for allotting new licenses last August. The cap was designed and enforced to control the numbers of vehicles on the road. By this cap, the council wanted to reduce the congestion and provide an up-hand to other taxi drivers who have complained that Uber and other ride-hailing vehicles are affecting their livelihood. Along with setting a minimum hourly rate for the drivers, Lyft, a competitor of Uber appealed to reverse this order earlier in 2019.

Uber’s lawsuit has sued against the cap, looking forward at removing the ban from issuing new licensees. The lawsuit said that there are other ways to keep a check on the city’s environment and congestion. By imposing such cap over new licenses the authorities have restricted the growth and services of Uber and other for-hire vehicle services. There are other ways like seeking guidance from commuting experts and economists but by applying such ban for a long time, the council has forced the residents from outer skirts of Manhattan to face big challenges as there is a shortage of Yellow taxis and other public transports in that areas. Uber’s lawsuit added. In a statement, Uber said that it supports the NW state’s vision for fair pricing, evidence-based strategy to lower the traffic and fund mass transfer.

On the other hand, New York Taxi Workers Alliances have defended the decision made by the Council. In a statement raised by this alliance to CNBC, they said that the council has taken this decision by looking at the economic crises faced by other taxi drivers. The statement stated that 8 taxi drivers have killed themselves because of the economic crisis, Uber has created. Because of this crisis Uber drivers and Yellow taxi drivers have gathered long in favor of the council’s decision. They believe that this cap will reduce the financial crises, debt, and poverty which is affecting them badly and forcing them to suicides.

Source: https://newsprimo.com/uber-sues-nyc-for-introducing-a-cap-on-new-driver-licenses/357/

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