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Drive Me Home

Gupri Satthie has been driving his Yellow Cab for the last 10 years.

 

 

Why did you start driving?

 

It was a good souce of income when I started, I thought it was a good opportunity to serve New York. In the early days, there was so much business, people were always on the street looking for a cab. Now, they're all inside on their phones. Uber has ruined the taxi industry. There have been almost eight suicides (by taxi drivers) in 2019.


The last thng one of the drivers who took his own life said was "I am not a slave and I refuse to be one."


But we are slaves. The law has tightened and the money has gone down. The medallion, which used to be worth a million dollars, is down to $200,000. But there are people who are still paying off that million dollars with their $200,000 medallion’s worth of income. People can’t pay their bills—they drown in debt and shame, so they kill themselves.

Why do people still drive taxis then?

 

It’s in my blood. I’ve been moving this city for the past ten years. It was a kingly business that we used to do and we used to make money off of--a medallion used to be like an ATM card. You put it on and you come to work and you’re good.


What would be your advice to other drivers who are feeling stressed right now?

 

Take it slow. And you must obey the law even though it isn't on our side. All the added fees take money off the tips, a ride that would be five dollars is now seven. It seems like we're collecting money for the city, not ourselves. Also, support the taxi industry, give us business.

It’s in my blood. I’ve been moving this city for the past ten years.

Patrick has been with Yellow Cab for 11 years.

 

 

How have Uber and Lyft affected your career? Have you had to get another job?


Not only have these companies affected Yellow Cab drivers, but the garage owners as well. Now when you go to garages you just see all the cars sitting there. It’s a sad sight. The price of medallions has gone down. It’s not just the drivers that are going through this, it’s the garages too—what affects us effects them.

 

Have there been any positive changes?


I haven't seen any.

What would be your advice to other drivers who are feeling stressed right now?


Words of encouragement for doing business? I don't think so. I went to school and I’m still trying to get a job—that’s why I'm still doing this. It’s good if you're going to school because the hours are flexible, but if you're not a young guy, this isn't the best job for you, Uber is more flexible. For permanent jobs, it's just not good—there are no benefits, no health insurance, no nothing.


If you could talk to the mayor, what would you say?

 

I don't know because the Uber guys, they're just trying to make money, too. They should say that they can’t increase the price, they should limit the number of Uber drivers. I think last year they passed a law that limited the number of Ubers that are allowed in a single area. But if they could give us health insurance or benefits—we don't get anything. We’re helping the city—it relies on us.

We don't get anything. And we’re helping the city—it relies on us.

Yehea Goma has been driving his Yellow Cab for eight years.

 

 

How have you seen the Yellow Cab business change?


When I started, [it was] busy. Now, it’s not, and there are a lot of Ubers and other companies. It’s not at all like before. Now, I work 50 hours a week. Where is the business? But I keep driving for my family. I have to work, I have to pay rent. I have bills and a family.


Some people say that taxis are becoming old school—what do you think?

 

That’s not a bad thing, it’s good. We are old-school, so people know we’re the real deal. We know the geography of New York, we have more experience than Uber. I have another business just in case if, in the future, cabs stop running. In two or three years, driverless cars will start working. Then we drivers will have to find another job. But I’m also a motor technician.

Would you ever drive for another company?


No, I don’t like Uber. I don't like any companies that aren’t Yellow Cab.


What is the difference between an Uber driver and a taxi driver?


The experience.

We’re old-school, so people know we’re the real deal.

Kwaku Botun has been with Yellow cab for three years.

 

 

If you could change something about the yellow cab business what would it be?


They should reduce the number of cars—there are too many in the system. I don't blame the mayor, it's all the other politicians with Uber money in their pocket. Driving a taxi has changed so much, even in the three years I’ve been driving. There are less cabs now, more Ubers. I work 11 hours a day. It’s difficult, but there’s nowhere else to go.

Some people would call Yellow Cabs retro. What do you think?


I don’t believe it, we also have an app! So it’s not old-school, we’re modernizing. And we, the Yellow Cab drivers, know the city better than Uber drivers. You can see it in how they drive, just looking at their maps. Me, I have it right in my head—I know the city in my head.

Uber is happening now, but Yellow Cab has been around forever. It’s not what it used to be, but we shouldn’t give up.

What would be your advice to other drivers who are feeling stressed right now?


Those who own medallions are having a rough time. The suicides are a sad thing, but nobody should give up. Sometimes passengers go to Uber, but then they come back because they know we’re still good. Uber is happening now, but Yellow Cab has been around forever. It’s not what it used to be, but we shouldn’t give up.

 

 

More about NYC Yellow Cab—and their drivershere.

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