Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says New York City should impose fees on ride-sharing apps to help struggling taxi medallion owners who are in debt, as an increase in ride-sharing vehicles on the city’s streets continues to be a source of conflict with financially burdened taxi drivers.
Taxi medallions allow drivers to operate their own vehicle, rather than leasing from others. But, according to Newsweek, the value of a medallion has dropped from $1 million in 2014 to less than $200,000.
Khosrowshahi told the New York Post on Monday that a solution is for New York City to impose a surcharge on Uber and Lyft, and to start a fund for struggling taxi drivers.
“In circumstances where medallion owner-operators are having a hard time, where technology has changed and demand patterns [have] changed their environment, we would support some kind of fee or pool to be formed, a hardship fund, call it,” Khosrowshahi said.
The Uber CEO said the idea for a surcharge came after he learned that some taxi drivers were struggling financially to the point of taking their own lives. At least five taxi drivers have killed themselves since last November. New York Taxi Workers Alliance President Bhairavi Desai told Fox Five news the Alliance is “sick and tired of burying [their] brothers.”
According to Khosrowshahi, the fund would only help drivers who independently own a medallion.
But Uber drivers and New York taxi drivers alike are unimpressed with the CEO’s suggested fee.
“It’s too late for his damage-control tour,” Desai told the network. “Dara Khosrowshahi’s proposals are a slap in the face to struggling drivers and an attempt to get out of being regulated.”
The Independent Drivers Guild, the association that 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.”