They have been omnipresent on the streets of New York, day and night time, as emblematic of the Massive Apple because the Empire State Constructing or Yankees caps. However the pandemic has made yellow taxis scarce and going through an unsure future.
On a February morning in a car parking zone close to La Guardia Airport, a number of dozen yellow cabs patiently queue within the freezing chilly to catch a fare from one of many terminals.
“This lot was once full with tons of of cabs and even a line outdoors,” says 65-year-old Joey Olivo, recalling the times earlier than coronavirus.
“Now there may be solely about 50 and also you wait two hours, when earlier than you’d wait 20 minutes,” provides Olivo, who has been a taxi driver for 3 many years.
Widespread working from dwelling, college closures and no vacationers means rides have plummeted for Olivo, as they’ve for all of New York’s cabbies.
“It’s been fairly unhealthy. My earnings dropped 80 p.c. I went from making perhaps $1,000 every week to creating $200 or $300 every week,” he informed AFP.
Olivo, who lives in Brooklyn, is attempting to place a courageous face on his scenario, joking that he’s fortunate his spouse “makes good cash” as a nurse, in any other case, “I might have had a rope round my neck.”
New York taxi drivers, most of whom are first-generation immigrants, have been as soon as in a position to make $7,000 a month or extra in the event that they labored lengthy hours seven days every week.
Competitors from Uber, Lyft and different ride-hailing companies had already drastically dented their earnings however with the pandemic, it’s in “free fall”, says Richard Chow, a 62-year-old taxi driver initially from Myanmar.