By: Carolina Del Campo Member-Candidate, J.D. Candidate, May 2020, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Since the introduction of ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, passengers have appreciated the easy, inexpensive mode of transportation that is both user-friendly and at the touch of their fingers. However, what these owners and passengers have failed to consider are the negative repercussions these apps have for other business owners, more specifically taxi drivers. Across the nation, taxi drivers have been unable to compete with the growing popularity of Uber and Lyft, and as a result, have seen a decline in their business. It is because of this decline that there has been an increase in suicides of taxi drivers who have taken their lives because of their loss of income and inability to maintain, what used to be, a substantive livelihood.

            Since December of 2017, six taxi drivers from New York have taken their lives as a result of their inability to compete with ride-sharing apps. Before Uber and Lyft, taxi drivers needed to invest in a medallion in order to legally drive customers around the city. These medallions served as a permit, and at its peak in 2013, were worth an expressive $1.3 million dollars. However, as Uber and Lyft’s popularity grew, the worth of a medallion began to decline to an alarming low of $160,000. As a result, taxi drivers have needed to put in more hours of driving to makeup for the loss in revenue and income. Not only are these taxi drivers losing their clientele to the cheaper fares of Uber and Lyft, but their investment in these medallions have become worthless as other drivers are not required to have any sort of permit to continue their business.           

In an effort to help these taxi drivers, three of these ride-sharing companies, Uber, Lyft, and Via, proposed the creation of a fund that would provide $100 million dollars over five years to these struggling drivers to help compensate for the loss of business. In exchange for their contribution, these companies asked that the city drop the regulation that froze the registration of new-hire drivers for a year. However, the New York City Council rejected this offer and instead simply encouraged these companies to set up a non-profit organization that would still help these drivers but would not require the City of New York to give these companies something in return. Unfortunately, these discussions between the city and these companies continue on and until there is some form of assistance put into action, these taxi drivers will continue to struggle with no relief in sight.