“Stop the greed and lower the lease”
Instead picking up fares, taxi drivers held up signs. Demonstrating in front of one of the city’s largest fleet operations, cabbies are protesting what they call high and unfair leasing fees charged by the owners of the cab companies.
Ali Memon is from Pakistan and has supported his wife and three daughters as a cab driver 12 years.
Most of New York’s 13 thousand taxicabs are owned by one of these large companies who then lease them out to drivers. The license fees are capped but not the finance charges for the car itself. Many here complain some owners with interest; charge as much as 60 thousand dollars on a vehicle that only costs 25 thousand.
There are more than 50 thousand registered taxi drivers in New York City. Most are immigrants from Muslim or Hindu countries. At one time here being a cab driver was considered one of the most dangerous jobs a person could have. And even though crime against cabbies is down there is still considerable risk and cost in the profession of moving people around.
David Yassky is head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. His agency regulates taxi fares, rules and fees. He says although lease charges are capped and workers have can complain – some owners still try to get around the rules to charge the drivers more.
But the last fare increases for taxis was eight years ago. The hikes are supposed to benefit the drivers but during that time gas, insurance and other expenses have gone up. Protestors say with no new fare hike insight and no controls on all the extra fees – all of the money goes to the owners of the big companies and not to them and their families.