New York City’s For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) and Taxi drivers are asking for mercy as the Port Authority (PA) plans to impose a fee on pickups at the metro area’s three major airports. A PA board hearing in June gave drivers their first chance to publicly address the agency on its plan for a $4 pickup fee on yellow cabs and a $4 fee on both pickups and drop-offs on ride-hail vehicles.

Holding signs that read “Not on our backs. Let drivers live,” drivers in a group asked the board to consider the damage that they said app-based companies and the collapse of taxi-medallion values have done to the industry. Several drivers cited the eight driver suicides that have shaken the industry in recent years. A yellow-cab driver complained that he and his fellow drivers make as little as $60 or $70 some days.

The Port Authority proposal would impose the fee on pickups at Newark, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports to help fund the proposed LaGuardia AirTrain project and other airport upgrades.

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said drivers are already facing a loss of fares in Midtown from new congestion fees. The Port Authority’s proposed surcharge “is now going to bring down the ridership at the airports – the only source of income for them,” Desai said. “We are at a point where people just cannot afford to lose even one more fare. They cannot afford to lose any more income.”

The airport fee is part of a series of toll and rate increases the agency proposed to implement at its bridges, tunnels and trains. The extra revenue will help the Port fund a record $37 billion capital plan in the next decade that the PA says is necessary to bring the its infrastructure to modern standards. The agency also says the fees will encourage people to take public transit, although it has not proposed charging private vehicles a fee for airport pickups and drop-offs.

Source:Crain’s New York Business

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