NY Taxi Driver Commits Suicide; Blames Uber, Lyft Before Hanging Self

A yellow cab driver of nearly 30 years hanged himself after he said ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft left him in dire financial straits, according to Authorities.

Nicanor Ochisor, 65, was discovered in the garage of his Maspeth, Queens home by his adult son on Friday - reports Richard Lipsky of the Taxi Medallion Owners and Drivers Association. Ochisor is the fourth such suicide in four months - however he is the first medallion owner to do so.

“He said, ‘I’m old, I’m tired, and I’m not going to make it,’ ” fellow driver Nino Hervias, 59, recalled from a conversation with Ochisor last week according to the NY Post.

“He talked to me about it [suicide] and said that’s the way he’s going to end,” friend and fellow medallion owner Dan Nitescu, 65, told The Post. “I told him to wait and it will get better.”

New York taxi medallion which used to fetch around $1 million have plummeted in value over the last five years to around $180,000. Ochisor used his medallion to back his home mortgage, and originally planned to use the license to finance his retirement. 

Ochisor had his medallion since 1989 according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission - driving it nightly while his wife took fares during the day, said Nitescu. “They were working like that for about 25 years to raise family and save for college,” the grieving friend said.

“He was only making $200 a day working 10 to 12 hours,” he said, adding that it was barely enough to make ends meet. “He was devastated.”

To make matters worse, the couple used the medallion as collateral on their home mortgage and would have been on the hook if the bank called in its debts and the medallion didn’t cover what they owed.

“It used to be that you knew that even if you weren’t making it on a day-to-day basis, the equity in your medallion was going up,” Hervias said. “Now we have no backup. The psychological effect is terrible.” -NY Post

Three other TLC drivers have committed suicide in the last four months. 

For decades there had been no more than 12,000 to 13,000 taxis in New York but now there were myriad new ways to avoid public transportation, in some cases with ride-hailing services like Via that charged little more than $5 to travel in Manhattan. In 2013, there were 47,000 for-hire vehicles in the city. Now there were more than 100,000, approximately two-thirds of them affiliated with Uber. -NYT

Livery driver Doug Schifter, in his early 60s, killed himself with a shotgun outside the gates of City Hall in Lower Manhattan after having written a lengthy Facebook post several hours earlier detailing his hardships.

"I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen plus years, wrote Schifter. "When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one."

I did manage to put something away but my financial cushion never developed. deBlasio stopped a traffic study on the impact of Uber. That would have revealed the true traffic impact of so many cars and shown the need to freeze car levels. There seems to be a strong bias by the Mayor and Governor in favor of Uber. A Company that is a known liar, cheat and thief. Cuomo allowed the removal of controls and allowed unlimited cars on the road. Cuomo also placed State Troopers in NYC to patrol and issue moving violations. This never happened before in my lifetime. He has turned the city into a police state. 

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I had almost 5 million miles experience, driven through five hurricanes and over 50 deep snow and blizzard conditions. I have driven over 100 world famous celebrities including Michael Bloomberg's daughters and mother, the family of the man who destroyed me.

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What is happening to our Country where the Government now destroys the people? We are not a government of the People, by the People and for the People any more. We are turning into a Government of the People, by the Corporation for the Rich. People are becoming enslaved and destroyed by politicians and companies with the aid of the rich and the corporations they control. They are doing it by bypassing the Laws or manipulating them. America is being stolen. Your future and your families future is being stolen right now.

The New York Times notes: In response to Mr. Schifter’s death, Mayor de Blasio showed little sensitivity to the psychic harms of economic deprivation. “Let’s face it, for someone to commit suicide there’s an underlying mental health challenge,” he said. Uber did not respond to a request for comment.

And right before Christmas, driver Danilo Castillo penned a similarly lengthy suicide note lamenting the "disastrous" state of the Taxi industry, before leaping to his death from his Manhattan apartment window on December 20. 

Bronx Councilman Reuben Diaz Sr. has proposed a bill aimed at protecting medallion holders by charging app-based companies the same fees that livery firms and drivers pay, as well as limiting the number of vehicles that can operate.