Categorized | Boroughs, Business, Featured, Issues, News

NYC taxi drivers protest against Uber


Uber, Lyft and other so-called hailing apps have many fans, but medallion taxi owners and drivers are generally not among them. They came out in force on Sept. 16, 2015, to protest what they say are job-killing practices. Even some Uber drivers were protesting.  

Abhishek Rana

Abhishek Rana

Abhishek Rana (Photo by Alexis Xie, GlobalCityNYC)

Uber driver 

“Uber lies about a lot of things,” Rana says. “They told us they only take 20 percent of our income every month, but guess what, they actually take 30 percent. I did my math,” and after all the deductions, “it is 30 percent. They are playing a game with us.” In addition, he says, “They call us as ‘partners,’ not ‘employees.’ We don’t have any insurance as a Uber employee. I have more than 20 friends who works for Uber now; they all complain about it.” Rana keeps going, “Uber sends us false text message every day, saying if we go out from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. during rush hour, we can make $60 an hour, but we don’t!” Rana opens his cellphone to show the Uber messages. “I just feel bad for these taxi drivers. That’s why I am here.” Rana says. “I am quitting my Uber job after this protest.”




Charbel Sfeir

Charbel Sfeir (Photo by Prarthana Jayaram, GlobalCityNYC)

Charbel Sfeir

Taxi driver from New Jersey

Sfeir, 58, is direct and unyielding in his views on Uber: “It is going to destroy the economy,” he says. To him, the equation is simple. Yellow cabdrivers owe money on their cars; they have taken out loans to get their taxis and need to meet a minimum monthly payment. With Uber, drivers will be unable to pay off their loans. The effect will be similar to the 2008 financial crisis, Sfeir explains: “There, people lost jobs and couldn’t make payment on their homes. This is the same.” As traditional taxi business declines, the value of the yellow cabs will drop, he says. A medallion owner who has driven taxis for 30 years, Sfeir is angry at what Uber has done: “Uber came and took our business away.” He adds that when the value of his car drops below the amount of his monthly payments, “I’ll say ‘bye-bye!’ and walk away.”



Mohammad Azan

Mohammad Azan (Photo by Nikita Takkar, GlobalCityNYC)

Mohammad Azan

Taxi driver from Bangladesh

Azan is still working his way up and hopes to own a medallion one day, despite what he sees as the bleak future of yellow taxis in New York. “Uber is driving taxi drivers to bankruptcy,” he says. “To get flexible hours, many of my contemporaries are buying their own cars to become Uber drivers. The taxes and competition isn’t letting them get any profits. They have huge mortgages on their head!” Even with the increase in Uber cars on the streets, Azan says, his profits haven’t dropped. “I used to make $1,000 a week and I still do,” he says. “ I just have to think of a smart way to work my way around this situation. But I am definitely never switching to Uber.”




Mohammad F Hussain

Mohammad F Hussain (Photo by Sarah Salvadore, GlobalCityNYC)

Mohammad F. Hussain

Medallion owner from Astoria, Queens

“When I first came to the United States, the taxi business was good,” Hussain, 44, says, “I’ve been a driver for 10 years and last year I bought a medallion at the auction for $830,000. Today, my right to pick up street hails is taken away. Uber X with its fancy app is sucking the taxi drivers’ blood.” He adds: “I have no other job skill, and this is my only mode of income. I used to make $250 a day and sometimes more. Now I struggle to make $2,000 a month for my family of five in New York. As for my family back in Bangladesh, I’ve stopped sending them money altogether. I cannot afford it. These private cabs need to be regulated.”




Satinder Kumar 3. Taxi Protest. Sept 16 2015. 41st Street 3rd Avenue

Satinder Kumar (Photo by Lydia Namubiru, GlobalCityNYC)


Satinder Kumar

Medallion owner from Queens Village

Kumar isn’t sure what specific actions the city should take, except that something has to be done to save folks like him. “I have to pay $4,100 for my medallion loan. I have a mortgage. I have a family. I have to feed the family,” he pleads. All these financial responsibilities were fairly manageable before Uber, he says. He has been a driver for 20 years but now feels that unless the city does something, he will have to take the medallion back to the lender and “go to the streets.”




Leave a Reply