“No Way Out”: Taxi Drivers, Allies Enter 2nd Week of Hunger Strike Against Crushing Medallion Debt

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New York City taxi drivers have entered their second week of hunger striking outside City Hall to demand that the mayor grant debt relief for thousands of drivers impacted by the taxi medallion price crash. Many drivers purchased taxi medallions, the permits required to drive a taxi, for upwards of $1 million. After the incursion of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as more recent plummeting demand for taxis due to the pandemic, they are now only worth about $100,000. Faced with massive debt and financial ruin, at least nine drivers have died by suicide. Taxi driver Augustine Tang, who has been on hunger strike for six days and personally knew one of the drivers who committed suicide, says that he is striking for medallion owners who “went into financial ruin” and saw that “there was no way out.” We also speak with Zohran Mamdani, a New York state assemblymember who joined drivers in the hunger strike. Mamdani says, “It’s important for us as legislators to bring to light what it is that people are suffering from out of view of those in the political elite.”

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