Monday’s Headlines: No Wonder Cabbies are Going Bankrupt Edition

The taxi industry. Photo: WCBS
The taxi industry. Photo: WCBS

Sunday started with a bombshell, as the New York Times’s Brian Rosenthal — he of the still-discussed “expensive tunnel” story in 2017 — unveiled his latest investigative effort: a months-long look into how the New York City taxi medallion market was propped up on bad loans only to pop like the housing bubble during the sub-prime era. The victims? Mostly immigrant cabbies.

“The whole thing was like a Ponzi scheme because it totally depended on the value going up,” said Haywood Miller, a debt specialist, who offered the money quote. “The part that wasn’t fair was the guy who’s buying is an immigrant, maybe someone who couldn’t speak English. They were conned.” America’s fairest big city, Mr. Mayor? It doesn’t seem like it in Rosenthal’s series. (Part II of the investigation is here.)

Pity the poor reporters at the other papers who had to match Rosenthal’s report. The Post stuck with the same angle as the Times, while the Daily News added some value with some statistics about the damaging role Lyft and Uber played.

Meanwhile, here was the rest of the news:

  • It was a carnage-filled weekend, with a cabbie killing an 80-year-old on Broome Street on Saturday, and a man crushed by a tractor trailer truck a day earlier, which the Daily News covered. Kudos to the Post’s Laura Italiano for pointing out that the cabbie got away with little more than a traffic ticket. Also on Friday, the NYPD reported the May 8 death of 68-year-old pedestrian Maria Ruiz-Amaya, who had been hit by a driver on 108th Street in Queens a week earlier (QNS).
  • The Post gloated a bit too much over the low ridership on the LIRR’s new South Fork Commuter Connection. It’s only been operating for two months!
  • A federal lawsuit may finally get the MTA to add elevators to stations. (NY1)
  • The News’s Clayton Guse wrote about a new company called Charge that wants to install docks for e-scooters so they don’t clutter the sidewalks. We’re not convinced Charge’s plan to put docks in private garages will work without a major public component — which seems unlikely from Mayor de Blasio.
  • It looks like Chuck Schumer has caught President Trump’s cold (war). (NY Post, NYDN)
  • And, finally, when are we going to get rid of this untested technology? (NY Post)


TLC Fact Book Excludes Facts About Crashes or Driver Safety Training

The Taxi and Limousine Commission’s 2014 Taxi Fact Book [PDF], released at the end of the Bloomberg administration, includes facts and figures on almost everything taxi- or livery-related, from trip length to passenger demographics. But there’s one important thing the report fails to mention: driver safety. Cab crashes account for some significant share of traffic […]

Let’s Raise Standards for Cab Drivers, Not Race to the Bottom

As cab medallion owners complain of competition from Uber and Lyft, the Taxi and Limousine Commission appears to be making it easier for applicants to acquire a hack license. On Sunday the Times reported that the TLC hack license exam will have fewer questions on geography, since drivers can use GPS to navigate the city. […]