For decades, New York City’s yellow taxis have served as a symbol of the city. However, taxi drivers account for only around 10% of the total driving population in the city, giving way to Uber and Lyft.
While this is due in large part to customer choice and the simplicity of ordering a ride-share car, it is also a result of the difficult working circumstances encountered by taxi drivers. According to the National Library of Medicine, they labor an average of 9.5 hours every day, six days a week. In addition, drivers must acquire or lease a medallion, which can be quite expensive.
Medallions reached a high of more than $1 million in the early 2010s, inflated by predatory financing, the allure of a rare asset, and industry leaders purposely overpaying.
Following the rise of Uber and Lyft, prices plummeted, causing tremendous distress for drivers who held their own medallion. The COVID pandemic exacerbated the situation, since cab hailers were nearly non-existent.
“With various cities’ government shutdowns due to the COVID pandemic, a lot of drivers moved to different areas of work,” stated David Do, commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Taxi drivers are currently competing for space in the sector as they recover from the medallion problem and the COVID-19 outbreak.