On a corner of 86th Street and East End Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday, three posters for a missing man were still hanging on a lamp post about a block from the East River, reports the New York Times. That was where the police found the man’s parked taxicab, the biggest investment of his life. The man, Yu Mein Chow, had taken out a loan seven years ago to buy a $700,000 medallion that gave him the right to operate a cab.
Mr. Chow, 56, who lived in Queens and went by the nickname “Kenny,” disappeared on May 11. His body was found floating in the East River about nine miles south, near the Brooklyn Bridge, on Wednesday. Friends and family members believe Mr. Chow jumped to his death, adding to a string of apparent suicides of traditional taxi and livery drivers in the city. It marked the fifth suicide in just over five months. The medical examiner has not yet determined a cause of death.
New York City’s cab industry, dependent on the market value of the once-coveted taxi medallion, has been upended by the proliferation of Uber and other ride-sharing services. Drivers have been demanding changes at City Hall to protect their livelihood, but at least five cabbies have buckled under the strain of debt since December as others describe working 12- and 14-hour shifts to make up for the lost income. One driver shot himself in February outside City Hall after leaving a message on Facebook blaming the industry’s demise on politicians.
- Another taxi driver in debt takes his life – the 5th in 5 month