A sixth New York City cab driver has committed suicide after falling into significant financial straits. It’s the latest in a string of deaths that, according to driver advocates, is connected to the proliferation of ride-hailing apps in the city like Uber and Lyft.
Abdul Saleh, a Yemeni immigrant who worked as a yellow cab lease driver, was found dead Friday in his Brooklyn apartment, according to a statement from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. He’s at least the sixth financially struggling driver to commit suicide since November, and he’d been having difficultly covering his portion of a lease he shared with his driving partner.
“Six of our brothers have now committed suicide in recent months, their livelihoods devastated by a business model that fails to recognize the basic humanity of the workers who keep our city moving and by a political system that prefers sound bytes to solutions to economic desperation,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the alliance, in a statement.
In recent weeks, the alliance said, 59-year-old Saleh had been short on his lease payment by $30 to 40 each week, and in his last week, “he was $300 short, meaning that all of his income was going toward the lease, with nothing left over for himself.”
My colleague Elizabeth Werth summed up the problems facing drivers in a story last month, after a fifth driver had been reported dead:
While we can’t ask those who committed suicide what the true factors leading to their decision was, the string of similar stories about these cab drivers has led to some pretty strong conclusions. The fact that all of these drivers have been suffering economically and working incredibly long hours only to be consistently ignored by the government that’s supposed to be supporting them is harrowing.
But the people of New York don’t want that change. Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to cap Uber in 2015, and he suffered a wild defeat. It’s starting to become more and more apparent that something needs to be done, but progress is necessarily slow. Political decisions like these can’t be made in a day. But several bills are being discussed again that could change the rules for rideshare apps.
The alliance said it had scheduled a press conference outside NYC City Hall on Monday at 11 a.m.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is online 24/7 to help you in a time of depression or desperation. Please don’t hesitate to utilize this resource.