A report from the Taxi and Limousine Commission found the number of yellow cabs that operate in New York City has declined 74% in the first six months of 2020, from 11,435 in January to 2,965 in June.
It is a slight improvement from a low of 2,193 cabs operating in April. Still, most drivers have seen their incomes fall by 50% or more and wonder how they will make it to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, ny1.com reported.
The coronavirus arrived as yellow cabdrivers were already reeling from a medallion crisis that saddled many of them with steep debt.
Despite earlier suggestions of a medallion bailout from the city, Mayor Bill DeBlasio said last month that such a rescue was unlikely due to the current financial downturn, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The commission has sought consideration from banks to help drivers looking to address payments for medallions that were priced at more than $1 million and then plummeted in value to less than $200,000 with the arrival of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft.
Commission chairwoman Aloysee Heredia told ny1.com that the city must think creatively to save the yellow cab industry and that she doesn’t expect it will go under.
“Can you imagine a New York City without yellow cabs? I cannot. And, absolutely, I would never allow that to happen under my watch,” Heredia said.
Hail pickups in Manhattan were the backbone of the yellow cab business. But with government-mandated closures and stay-at-home orders brought on by the coronavirus, the throngs of tourists, theatergoers and office workers have largely disappeared.