New York taxi drivers can now look forward to a ‘new dawn’ after officials strike a deal with the industry’s biggest lender of taxi loans to end a two-week hunger strike by cabbies, and years of campaigning, against the huge debts put on many in the sector.
The deal is seen as a major step forwards for drivers in New York City. Mayor de Blasio, New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Commissioner and Chair Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk, and Senator Charles Schumer announced the agreement between the City, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), and Marblegate Asset Management (Marblegate), the largest medallion lender, to supplement the City’s Medallion Relief Program (MRP) with a City-funded deficiency guarantee to achieve greater principal reduction and lower monthly payments.
Under the agreement, Marblegate will restructure outstanding loans to a principal balance of $200,000, which will be constituted as a $170,000 guaranteed loan, plus a City grant of $30,000. The terms of the new loan will include a 5% interest rate and a 20-year, fully amortising term. This restructuring will cap debt service payments at $1,122 per month for eligible medallion owners.
The City will provide funding for a guarantee on the principal and interest for these loans and will work with all other medallion lenders to achieve the same terms.
This agreement builds on the success of the City’s $65 million Medallion Relief Program, which has helped 173 owner/drivers achieve $21.4 million in debt forgiveness in just five weeks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “Taxi workers have worked tirelessly to make New York City the most vibrant city in the world, and we refuse to leave them behind.
“I’m proud to have worked with Senator Schumer, NYTWA, and Marblegate to reach an equitable, sustainable solution that builds on the success we’ve achieved in reducing debt burdens for the hard-working drivers who keep our city moving.”
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, said: “I was so proud to broker a deal for desperately needed debt relief for hardworking taxi workers.
“The medallion debt crisis has gone on for years, taking lives and livelihoods. I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance for their steadfast advocacy, and Marblegate for their good-faith effort to forge a workable solution. Together, we will bring this ongoing situation to a just resolution for the thousands of cabbies who work every day to serve this City.”
Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance, union of 25,000 taxi and app-based driver members, said: “After a long and painful journey, we made it home to victory.
“Today marks a new dawn, a new beginning for a workforce that has struggled through so much crisis and loss. Today, we can say owner-drivers have won real debt relief and can begin to get their lives back. Drivers will no longer be at risk of losing their homes, and no longer be held captive to a debt beyond their lifetime. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio for standing with the drivers and putting the might and the faith of the City to fix this crisis. We are thankful to Marblegate for working with us in good faith to reach a resolution. This resolution was not possible without Senator Schumer whose leadership secured funds and helped steer our ship. And this victory was not possible without our broad coalition of supporters. The city we love had our back and so today we can say, we have won!”