Some taxi drivers now suing New York City over the sinking value of their taxi medallions.
Drivers say services like Uber and Lyft have created unfair competition, and they blame the city for not creating a level playing field.
“Ask the credit unions at least to restructure some of the loans,” cab driver Steve Howell said.
Howell started driving a checkered cab in the 1970s and is still working at 65. The drivers protested on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, asking Governor Andrew Cuomo for a bailout.
“Today I lose everything,” drier Pardeep Sharma said. “They got my house. I don’t know what I can do now.”
The hard-fought medallions necessary for them to do business went for more than $1 million each just a few years ago, but they have now lost more than 70 percent of their value.
“Why isn’t the city protecting our interests, that they sold to us for billions of dollars?” asked Carolyn Protz, of the Taxi Medallion Owner Driver Association.
The drivers’ attorneys liken the situation to what happened in 2008, when homeowners lost out but the banks were bailed out.
“Many lenders are refusing to renew because of the uncertainty of the market,” one driver said. “Even though the borrowers never have missed a payment.”
At one point, Mayor Bill de Blasio came outside, saw the drivers and kept walking.
“When the smoke clears, another segment of the middle class will have been destroyed with the help of these fraudulent middle class defenders,” driver Sergio Cabrera said. “Work hard. Play by the rules. So we can take your assets later.”
They blame de Blasio and Mayor Michael Bloomberg before him for welcoming the new services like Uber.
“This was a great American story until two, three years ago,” attorney Brad Gerstman said. “And now it is becoming one of the biggest immigrant crises in New York City.”
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