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Sixth New York City cab driver dies of suicide after struggling financially

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Sixth New York City cab driver dies of suicide after struggling financially

A Yemeni immigrant is the sixth driver to die of suicide in the past eight months, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

A sixth New York City taxi cab driver took his own life on Friday night, the latest in a string of driver suicides that has shaken the industry and brought attention to its economic hardships.

Abduel Saleh, 59, is a Yemeni immigrant and the sixth driver to die of suicide in the past eight months, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA).
Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of NYTWA, said that Saleh had been out of work for two weeks. He and his driving partner Qamar Chaudhary had turned in their taxi cab after splitting night and day shifts that went as long as 12 hours for seven years, she said. Chaudhary’s cousin had offered him an opportunity to drive with Uber, and Chaudhary offered Saleh a similar opportunity, Desai explained.

Mr. Saleh still wanted to drive a yellow cab, so he was deciding what to do,” she said. “But even before then he was falling behind on the lease. He was behind as much as $300 on the last week that he worked.”

Saleh’s friends said that he tended to work the airport and hotel lines in hopes of picking up fares, a strategy that has seen fewer and fewer of returns in recent years because of ride-sharing services, Desai said.

he added that cab and livery drivers do not have retirement to fall back on and would only suffer greater poverty if they turned to Uber or Lyft.

“He drove for over half his life,” Desai said. “This is what he knew. This was his job. This is how he knew to earn a living for himself and his family overseas in Yemen. Your days are spent hearing about your family in the middle of such a devastating war and then you having little means to financially support them to relocate them.”

Chaudhary told the New York Post that Saleh “sounded upset and depressed.”

“I know he wasn’t making enough money to pay his lease,” Chaudhary added. “He was short here and there, and I used to have to help him out. He said he didn’t know how to survive.”

The NYTWA plans to have a press conference outside of New York City’s city hall on Monday to address Saleh’s death and the economic hardship they say drivers currently face.

Many cab drivers work more than a dozen hours a day, seven days a week, yet are left cash-strapped after paying off car and taxi medallion loans, according to the NYTWA.

One problem that many in the industry point to is a glut of drivers, as ride-share companies such as Lyft and Uber increased the number of cars in the road.

Five other New York City livery and cab drivers experiencing economic hardship have taken their own lives in recent months, most notably Douglas Schifter who killed himself on the steps of city hall. Schifter said that the ride-share companies were contributing to the financial strain that led him to such drastic measures, according to a manifesto he wrote on Facebook.

“We’re just so angry,” said Desai. “We’re really angry that we now have gone to six funerals.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

by Phil McCausland
from nbcnews website

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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