String of New York taxi driver suicides concerns as Uber, spreading the Lyft

File photo – A New York City taxi drives through Times Square in New York March 29, 2016. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

A series of five apparent New York taxi driver suicides in five months, the lawyers concerned about the impact of Uber and Lyft, as well as the loans cabdrivers have used to purchase taxi medallions.

Yu Chow Mein was mourned by friends and family this weekend after his body was found floating in the East River—it is believed that he jumped to his death after not able to make a payment on the $700,000 loan he took in 2011 to pay for his taxi medallion.

New York City’s cab industry has changed dramatically due to the influx of around 70,000 Uber and Lyft cars over the past six years. The competition has led some taxi drivers, most of them are immigrants, working 12 to 15 hour shifts while watching their wages fall. Another driver shot himself on Feb. 5 outside the town Hall after the close of a Facebook post that the debt of the industry of the misery on the politicians.

Chow, whose wife is fighting Stage 4 colon cancer, has a $700,000 mortgage at Melrose Credit Union in 2011 and in the first instance, only mentioned the locket as his sureties, according to the documents that are displayed by the New York Post.

Lyft and Uber is under fire in the wake of a number of New York City taxi driver suicides.


However, he refinanced five years later and put everything he owns as collateral—including his home, sources told the Post.

“It’s more strict than what we have ever seen”, New York Taxi Workers Alliance Director Bhairavi Desai said. “They are not negotiating a lower interest rate and are now the residents personal property such as their homes as collateral. This is ruining the drivers life.”

Before he took his own life, Chow could no longer afford his daughter’s college education, nor of his wife, medical bills.

The credit union, which was taken over by the government last year as a result of “unsafe and unhealthy” practices, and allegedly also for the financing of the loan of Nicanor Ochisor, a taxi driver who hanged himself in March over financial woes that he blamed on Uber and Lyft.

With respect to Chow’s death, a spokesperson from Uber told Fox News: “We are deeply saddened and our thoughts are with his family.”

Uber and other ride-sharing apps come under fire in the wake of a number of New York City taxi driver suicides.


“This tragic loss and our hearts go out to the family and friends affected,” a Lyft spokesperson told Fox News.

Taxi medallions, which were once sold for more than $1 million, can now be had for as little as $175,000, according to data from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The New York City Council is considering various bills that would be a brake on the expansion of the ride-sharing services—by charging of annual fees to the directors, the limit of how many apps a person can drive, or limiting the number of cars a company can have in the operation.

A member of the family set up a GoFundMe to cover the cost of Chow, the widow of the medical bills.

“It’s a tragedy,” taxi driver Bigu Haider, 53, told the Post. “This is never going to happen.”



Christopher Carbone is a reporter for He can be reached at or on Twitter @christocarbone.

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