If you want to operate a taxi in New York, you need a "medallion" — a tin plate issued by the city. In 1937, the first year taxi medallions were issued, they cost $10 (about $160 in today's dollars).
There are only about 13,000 medallions in all of New York, and if you want want one you have to buy it from a medallion owner. This scarcity led to all sorts of sleazy wheeling and dealing, giving rise to medallion brokers, medallion investment schemes, and predatory leaning practices. By 2013, medallions were selling for $1 million. Then Uber came along and the price cratered. Medallions sell for about $200,000 now. (Former Trump layer Michael Cohen went $22 million into debt because of 32 medallions he bought as an investment.)
The upshot of this is that there are a lot of medallion owner-drivers who owe upwards of $600,000 on a medallion worth $200,000 and they can't afford the monthly payments to the lenders. Some of owners decided to stop eating food to force the city to do something about it. And it looks like it is working. According to The Guardian, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has agreed to "a city-backed guarantee to lower monthly payments of taxi medallion owners."
After weeks of camping outside City Hall in New York, taxi drivers can finally head home after striking a deal with officials to rescue thousands of workers from crushing loans that had caused misery for their families.
The news arrived on the 15th day of a hunger strike led by the drivers and their advocates.
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) agreed to a city-backed guarantee to lower the monthly payments of taxi medallion owners, or "owner drivers" to a maximum $170,000 – far less than the average medallion debt of around $600,000, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA).
The agreement was made with Marblegate, the largest medallion loan-holder, with more lenders expecting to follow suit. Soon, the most a driver can expect to pay back in loanswill be just over $1,100 per month.