Uber CEO says New York City should im­pose fee to help cab­bies

The Beacon Herald - - BUSINESS - KAREN MATTHEWS THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

GETTY IM­AGES FILES

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.

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