Dozens of New York City taxi drivers blocked the Brooklyn Bridge demanding medallion debt forgiveness

Taxi cabs drive through streets of Manhattan, NYC
Workers are demanding that people who have to take out a loan to afford the taxi medallion pay a comparable rate to those who pay cash. Curb
  • NYC taxi drivers blocked the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday demanding debt forgiveness from the city.
  • The union wants a better restructuring plan for people who took out loans for taxi medallions.
  • The taxi drivers have been protesting near City Hall for 27 straight days.

Dozens of New York City taxi drivers blocked the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday demanding debt forgiveness from their taxi medallion loans.

Taxi medallions are a city license that goes on the taxi allowing drivers to pick up street hails anywhere in the boroughs. But they require fees.

According the the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, paying for a medallion outright costs an average of $US100,000 ($AU134,757), but taking out a loan for one on average costs $US550,000 ($AU741,161).

“They sold medallions they knew were over priced and 6,000 of our families are drowning in debt,” a protester said in a video from Friday’s protest the NYTWA shared to Twitter.

The NYTWA union represents 25,000 drivers. They have been protesting near City Hall for 27 straight days.

They say the loan price of the medallion disproportionately targets low-income immigrants of color, and more than 900 workers have filed for bankruptcy.

Nine taxi drivers have died by suicide since 2017.

NYTWA says on its website that the city’s $US65 ($AU88) million Taxi Medallion Owner Relief Program doesn’t go far enough in providing relief.

The city is offering medallion loan owners a $US20,000 ($AU26,951) grant to help restructure their debt and an additional $US9,000 ($AU12,128) in monthly debt payment support. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced late last month that three owners had restructured their loans and received $US700,000 ($AU943,296) in relief, and nearly 800 more were in negotiations to do so by the end of the year.

The union is asking for loans to be $US145,000 ($AU195,397) with $US800 ($AU1,078) monthly payments or to make cash settlements for no more than $US145,000 ($AU195,397). And they are demanding that medallions that were foreclosed on be returned to the original owner at the new agreed terms.

The mayor’s office didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment on Friday.