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In the shadow of Uber's rise, taxi driver suicides leave cabbies shaken [NBC]

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jbauer
398 Driver
 Posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I know this is a bummer news, but I feel responsible sharing it.  BTW, no, that isn't the guy who committed suicide.

"What Uber and Lyft have done is come into the industry and wreck it," a Chicago taxi driver said."

Image: Nnamdi Uwazie

Nnamdi Uwazie said he drives seven days a week, 15 hours a day, and after he pays the cab company the $475 weekly lease fee, he rarely has more than a few hundred dollars left to feed his family.Alyssa Schukar / for NBC News

Take it from veteran Chicago cabby Nnamdi Uwazie: The shock waves from the recent suicides of five New York City taxi and livery drivers are being felt in the Windy City as well.

So is the desperation that drove a struggling limo driver to kill himself with a shotgun outside City Hall in Manhattan two months ago.

"We were all talking about what happened in New York and how it could happen here because it's so hard to be a cab driver in Chicago," Uwazie told NBC News. "So many people's livelihoods are gone. It is only by the grace of God we are still here."

For cab drivers like Uwazie, the culprit in Chicago, as in New York, it's ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that have revolutionized the industry and siphoned off customers, while not having to comply with the same stringent regulations as taxi drivers.

The wave of suicides that claimed the life of livery driver Douglas Schifter and four others appears to be limited to New York, but taxi industry insiders say drivers across the country face the same pressures — especially those in big cities who invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxi medallions that have rapidly lost their value with the rise of the ride-sharing services.

“It’s an eco…

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I know this is a bummer news, but I feel responsible sharing it.  BTW, no, that isn't the guy who committed suicide.

"What Uber and Lyft have done is come into the industry and wreck it," a Chicago taxi driver said."

Image: Nnamdi Uwazie

Nnamdi Uwazie said he drives seven days a week, 15 hours a day, and after he pays the cab company the $475 weekly lease fee, he rarely has more than a few hundred dollars left to feed his family.Alyssa Schukar / for NBC News

Take it from veteran Chicago cabby Nnamdi Uwazie: The shock waves from the recent suicides of five New York City taxi and livery drivers are being felt in the Windy City as well.

So is the desperation that drove a struggling limo driver to kill himself with a shotgun outside City Hall in Manhattan two months ago.

"We were all talking about what happened in New York and how it could happen here because it's so hard to be a cab driver in Chicago," Uwazie told NBC News. "So many people's livelihoods are gone. It is only by the grace of God we are still here."

For cab drivers like Uwazie, the culprit in Chicago, as in New York, it's ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that have revolutionized the industry and siphoned off customers, while not having to comply with the same stringent regulations as taxi drivers.

The wave of suicides that claimed the life of livery driver Douglas Schifter and four others appears to be limited to New York, but taxi industry insiders say drivers across the country face the same pressures — especially those in big cities who invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxi medallions that have rapidly lost their value with the rise of the ride-sharing services.

“It’s an economic crisis across the industry and across the country,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union for cabbies.

Uwazie, 55, a Nigerian immigrant, has been driving for over a decade and said the last few years have been especially hard because of the arrival of Uber. "What Uber and Lyft have done is come into the industry and wreck it," Uwazie said. "It's not that they should not be in it, but they should be regulated like taxi cabs."

Uwazie said he drives seven days a week, 15 hours a day, and after he pays a cab company the $475 weekly lease fee, he rarely has more than a few hundred dollars left to feed his family. “It is actually difficult now to survive in this industry,” Uwazie said. “I have three kids and they depend on me. I have to put food on the table and pay the bills. There is a lot of pressure on me.”

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Comments

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    DrJill
    81 Driver
     4 years ago

    I am involved with a PTSD/Trauma Life Coaching group.  I urge anyone that is depressed and anxious to "Do Something Right Today" when everything else seems to be wrong.  Watch this and then get follow-up from one of our certified coaches.  

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtNscBVMnNo
    Show Hide  2 Replies
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      ShamedJames
      97
       4 years ago

      good stuff.  taxi drivers need all the help they can get.

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      mboscorelli
      250 Rider
       4 years ago

      Wow.  I commend your work, and thank you for thinking of those who need the help.

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    RedANT
    1072 Rider Driver
     4 years ago

    Just because you once reigned supreme in the industry doesn't mean that you're always going to remain there.  What we see here is the result of professional stagnation.  People that denied change and refused to adapt as circumstances changed. 

    These people need mental health help, but beyond that they need to adapt NOW.  If you want to drive but can't compete with Uber, drive for Uber and broaden your horizons. 

    Show Hide  6 Replies
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      Bigfrank
      447 Rider Driver Driver
       4 years ago

      Broaden our horizons ???  Broaden This asshole !!! There is a thing called a medallion which is a LEGAL instrument in which drivers were heavily invested to maintain a DECENT income and to one day SUPPLEMENT their social security. 

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        srider78
        92
         4 years ago

        "Broaden this asshole"  LOL.  upvoted.

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        RedANT
        1072 Rider Driver
         4 years ago

        Yeah, and you see how well that's working for ya, right? 

        If cabbies are losing money and can't make ends meet, they need to either adapt or find alternate ways to support themselves.  What part of that do you find so offensive?  OMFG I though New Yorkers were stronger than that. 

        Sincerely,

        "the asshole"

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          Bigfrank
          447 Rider Driver Driver
           4 years ago

          I find OMFG more offensive then your cold demeanor. One day when bad luck knocks you to your knees and your mental capacity has clouded itself you will remember why I called you a asshole.

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            RedANT
            1072 Rider Driver
             4 years ago

            My cold demeanor?  Please revisit your statements before slinging further insults. Many New Yorkers once wore such statements as a badge of honor.  Obviously things have changed over the years.

            Once upon a time a company named AOL dominated the online world, and thought that the world would continue to revolve around them.  Times evolved, and today they're nothing more than 3rd world content providers.  What happened?  They did exactly the same thing cabbies did.  They believed that they were safe and stagnation was their downfall.   Learn from their mistakes and EVOLVE rather than expect the good old days to keep rolling.  Eventually the party DOES end.

            If you're offended by my "OMFG" statement, and choose to label this disabled great grandmother an asshole for having an opinion, there's nothing much more to say.  Guilty as charged.  (people have called me a hell of a lot worse but I still survive) 

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              Bigfrank
              447 Rider Driver Driver
               4 years ago

              Let us agree to disagree.