Sharjah24 - They were omnipresent on the streets of New York day and night, as emblematic of the Big Apple as the Empire State Building or Yankees caps. But the pandemic has made yellow taxis scarce and facing an uncertain future.
New York taxi drivers, most of whom are first-generation immigrants, were once able to make $7,000 a month or more if they worked long hours seven days a week.
Competition from Uber, Lyft and other vehicle-for-hire firms had already drastically dented their income, but with the pandemic it is in "free fall," says Richard Chow, a 62-year-old taxi driver originally from Myanmar.
In the years that followed, medallion prices soared, inflated by a nexus of bankers, investors and lawyers.
The arrival of thousands of new drivers working for Uber and others has caused the medallion bubble to burst and condemned thousands of cabbies who had bought medallions at a high cost on credit to fall into debt or bankruptcy.
Hence the scarcity of yellow taxis. Out of some 13,000 licenses, only about 5,000 taxis are running regularly at the moment, according to the union.