Should we bail out taxi drivers stuck with “uber-expensive” medallion loans? According to a New York City-appointed panel, yes. The NYC group announced yesterday that they are seeking a $500 million dollar bailout to help cover the immense amount of debt put on taxi drivers who still own medallions.
Not only is the panel feeling optimistic about the bailout but there are also other positive changes in the works as well. New legislation is expected to be announced tomorrow that would relieve medallion owners from tax liability. “We know that folks in this industry have suffered tremendously,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who appointed most of the panel’s members, told the Times.
Back in the day, buying a medallion was seen as a good investment. Many immigrants took on the loan (and charged inflated prices) for the promise of a better future. Any hope of this future was squashed once Uber and Lyft entered the scene. With the new competition, taxi medallion owners on the verge of bankruptcy. Sadly, a number of drivers even committed suicide from the immense burden suddenly placed on them and their families.
This is not the first time a bail out has been proposed. In August, Lyft, Uber, and Via offered a $100 million bailout for NYC medallion owners. However, the funds came with strings. NYC was expected to drop certain regulations placed on ridesharing companies in exchange for the money. The city rejected the offer.
Hopefully, this proposed bailout has an alternate outcome for the sake of the taxi medallion owners currently struggling to make ends meet. The panel is expected to issue a report and a proposal before January is over.