Uber CEO says New York City should impose fee to help cabbies
NEW YORK — The CEO of Uber says New York City should impose a fee on app-hailed rides to help taxi medallion owners who are struggling with debt.
CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the New York Post on Monday that the city should put the surcharge into a fund to help taxi owners who bought their medallions at sky-high prices. He did not say how much the fee should be.
“In circumstances where medallion owner-operators are having a hard time, where technology has changed and demand patterns has changed their environment, we would support some kind of fee or pool to be formed, a hardship fund, call it,” Khosrowshahi said.
The value of a taxi medallion has fallen from as much as $1 million to $200,000 in the years since Uber and other ride-hailing companies disrupted the industry. Many owners who thought their medallions would continue to grow say they are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Advocates have blamed five apparent suicides of drivers since last November on the taxi industry’s woes.
In the most recent case, yellow cab owner-driver Yu Mein Chow was found floating in the East River last month. The city medical examiner has not determined a cause of death, but Chow’s family members believe he jumped to his death.
A livery cab driver shot himself to death outside City Hall in February after writing a Facebook post blaming politicians for the taxi industry’s decline.
Groups that represent drivers blasted Khosrowshahi’s proposal.
“Dara Khosrowshahi’s proposals are a slap in the face to struggling drivers and an attempt to get out of being regulated,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents Uber drivers, said, Khosrowshahi “needs to address the widespread hardship faced by drivers for his own company before considering taking another cut from our sub-minimum-wage pay.”
Meanwhile, an Uber driver who booted out two women who kissed each other in his car has had his licence suspended.
New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesman Allan Fromberg calls the driver’s behaviour “ridiculous.” Fromberg says it’s 2018 and “this isn’t the way we live anymore.”
The women are a couple in their 20s and were on their way from Brooklyn to Manhattan on Saturday when they exchanged what they call a “peck” on the lips. They say driver Ahmad El Boutari forced them out and a confrontation ensued.
A cellphone video taken by one of the women shows the driver saying kissing in an Uber is illegal.
The women and the driver haven’t responded to messages left Tuesday seeking comment.
Uber says it does not tolerate discrimination and is investigating.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says New York City should impose a fee on ridehailing apps to help struggling taxi medallion owners, who bought medallions at sky-high prices.