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Colin Quinn Talked To NYC Cab Drivers About The Industry’s Suicide Crisis (HBO)

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Earlier this month, a cash-strapped taxi driver in Queens took his own life. But the tragedy was hardly a unique situation: he was the eighth cab industry suicide in the past year as ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft continue to rise in popularity. Driving a cab and owning your own taxi medallion used to be a path to a comfortable middle-class existence for many New Yorkers, especially immigrants. But since 2012, ride-sharing apps have flooded New York streets with new cars, undercutting yellow cab prices and depressing wages. The value of a medallion, which gives cabbies the exclusive right to pick up street hails, has plummeted from its peak of over a million dollars to less than $200,000 today. It affected the industry across the board — even the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, lost millions after amassing around 30 medallions. But it left some cabbies, who had invested their live savings in buying a medallion and were counting on this as their retirement fund, in complete financial ruin. Colin Quinn, the comedian and life-long New Yorker, is not nostalgic for the days where he was unable to get a cab to take him to Brooklyn. But it pains him to think that this new technology could spell the end for the yellow cab, one of New York City's most iconic sights. VICE News sent Quinn to ride along with some drivers to figure out what happened to them and their livelihood — and what they think the city owes its cab drivers. Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com Follow VICE News here: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicenews Twitter: https://twitter.com/vicenews Tumblr: http://vicenews.tumblr.com/ Instagram: http://instagram.com/vicenews More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo
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Text Comments (832)
VICE News (10 days ago)
VICE News sent Quinn to ride along with some drivers to figure out what happened to them and their livelihood — and what they think the city owes its cab drivers. NEXT: The Hidden Homelessness Crisis In California - http://bit.ly/2E1fnUK
Anonymous (8 days ago)
+扁鹊 that's what goebbel's said did you see how deformed goebbels looked? And the rest of the losers around hitler?
o o (8 days ago)
"Vice News sent Quinn..." ugh shut up stpuid
扁鹊 (9 days ago)
Survival of the fittest is the law of nature.
扁鹊 (9 days ago)
If you can't keep up with the pace of social progress, then you will be eliminated by the society. It's cruel, but it's reality. Truth is that you adapt to society, not society to you.
Anonymous (8 days ago)
DeBlasio too busy spending Billions of NYC tax dollars on *Mental Healthcare* spending hundreds of millions on new facilities and billions more supporting Medical Gaslighting, Medical Upcoding, and 33% kickbacks, plus the water quality going down due too conspiracy in Water Filtration Plants and NO NOT JUST FLOURIDE, there is shady shit going on
Chris G (6 hours ago)
You know who I feel bad for? The cabbies who bought medallions at the peak of their value a year or two before Uber arrived. Talk about massive debt.
peonmyhall (22 hours ago)
It's fitting that Colin is doing this piece. His career is dying as well. Really poetic vice.
Wolfgang Von Zubaz (2 days ago)
The most sickening thing about Uber is not the company themselves, but the people who use Uber. The majority of Uber users identify as liberal according to Pew Research. But those same liberals when asked if it should be regulated say nope. Liberals are about increasing the minimum wage, but are ok using a company who's drivers make below minimum wage? These fucking hypocrites are only liberal when doesn't inconvenience them
ilovebrandnewcarpets (2 days ago)
Cabbies are blacksmiths. Adapt or be unemployed.
Klee Klee (2 days ago)
If they fear about losing their jobs then they should do a much better job. Yellow cabs smell bad and they have terrible manners. Fuckem.
Pink Panther (3 days ago)
OUTRAGEOUS. City officials who let Uber into a government controlled market (without paying a medallion type fee) should have offered cabbies some kind of reimbursement. Cabbies must abide by many state regulations and due to the costs of operating, the market competition is unfair. Uber/Lyft have many unfair advantages.
CalvinSomething (3 days ago)
A buyback program for the medallions would be a compromise.
M Sport (5 days ago)
Only reason Vice did this story is because all the taxi drivers are minority or immigrants.
Kingzall (6 days ago)
I do not feel sorry for taxi drivers. I never have to worry if Uber/Lyft will pick me up.
rocksta201012 (6 days ago)
Also, uber isn’t as accessible for those with disabilities and it’s just very hard for companies to be so unregulated in a city like NY. Those who can’t afford smartphones? No uber. Those who can’t get credit/debit cards? No uber. Let’s not forget New York is made up of much more than hipsters and college kids.
Flesh (6 days ago)
I feel bad for some of the drivers, but regular cabs failed to develop with the times. Dinosaurs die. It's similar in a lot of places/countries. I know a couple slightly older cabbies and they just don't seem to understand the value of appified easiness and even just slightly lower prices have to the customers. Just have this mentality of this is how it's been done and so it should keep being done the same way...
Mental Nomad (6 days ago)
Don't see a lot of horses and feriers in NYC these days either. Those medallions also act as chips for machine politics in the city.
Adam Presley (6 days ago)
Ya Colin!!
chris bepo (6 days ago)
I Like this phrase the future of yellow cab is big junk .
Baba Jaani (6 days ago)
Tough sh!t that taxi can not compete in a free economy. Uber is good for riders, it’s cheaper, cleaner, faster more comfortable
bret too (6 days ago)
If I was one the Yellow cab driver every Friday I would get like 40 to 50 cab driver to drive around Manhattan at 5 mph or less an hour very slow Not pick up passengers as a form of Protest. Alot better then killing ur self. Man the Traffic nightmare cab drivers can cause city of NYC is lucky am not a yellow cab driver I would make nyc pay for it's under the table money taking from uber
SEPT LUXURE (7 days ago)
If you ever washed dishes as a job and you start doing something else other than dishes like driving you wont go back to being a dishwasher unless it pays better and I mean a lot better than your new driving job
Christopher Horn (7 days ago)
Medallion taxis are a scam. They create artificial scarcity, increasing customer wait times so they can charge more.
Stevie0445 (7 days ago)
Automated cars are going to take both out of business in the next 20 years. mark this comment.
Tony Nyc (7 days ago)
I agree with Colin, it's eventually in the near future going to be gone. My prediction in the next three years the real estate agent for the buyer is almost eliminated, the seller's agent role will be extremely diminished to the point where most agents who can't make a living now will be forced out permanently. The internet which is great is eating up a lot of industries because it's giving the consumer easy access to many things. Those of you who are reading look around your cubicle, your job maybe one day be replaced by an app or a website. Most jobs are not secure anymore.
john smith (4 days ago)
People who are saying this is Social Darwinism and its okay are the most ignorant posters here. No jobs other then skilled labor is safe anymore, and really those jobs are not worth the cost. You'll sell labor for a slightly above average wage to maybe a great wage (for older guys), and a retirement with a broken, painful maybe crippled body. One example is accounting software is getting exponentially better every year, I say 20 years and half of accounting jobs will be eliminated. If anyone wants an industry its happened to already look at stock brokerages, software eliminated most of the jobs. One computer can do the same job as a hundred brokers. These cabbies were promised protection for their jobs, and uber came along and found a loophole and officials do nothing.
blazinpyromaniac (7 days ago)
People are screaming now, "you're not adapting to the technological times!" or "business is business!" And then when Uber and Lyft comes with automated driving and all of these Uber and Lyft drivers lose their jobs and livelihoods, then they'll really see that just cause it's technologically available, doesn't mean it's good for society as a whole.
but yellow cab is like an icon of NYC
Magneto Rex (8 days ago)
adapt or die
Hugo Castro (8 days ago)
J Porter (8 days ago)
NYC is a prime time example of a lunatic leftist run city in moral decay..
Combat Enthusiast (8 days ago)
"If you are black and you try to get a taxi in this city you're in trouble" Translation: if you're a taxi in this city, good luck getting paid by black people because they're gonna dash, and if you discriminate because your income is being hurt, then you're the bad guy.
Combat Enthusiast (8 days ago)
Notice it's all women with top comments about how much they don't care about a male dominated job.
Beef Supreme (8 days ago)
Tax Uber and Lyft to fund these cabbies transitioning into new employment then let the scam of a taxi industry die for good.
Dan M (8 days ago)
Yellow cabs need to be phased out one by one. That sikh taxi driver needs to go and wash some dishes
mr frank (8 days ago)
When are we gonna talk about the lumberjack-ocalypse. Thanks VICE. The CDC's occupational suicide list: 1. Farmworkers, fishermen, lumberjacks, others in forestry or agriculture (85 suicides per 100,000) 2. Carpenters, miners, electricians, construction trades (53) 3. Mechanics and those who do installation, maintenance, repair (48) 4. Factory and production workers (35) 5. Architects, engineers (32) 6. Police, firefighters, corrections workers, others in protective services (31) 7. Artists, designers, entertainers, athletes, media (24) 8. Computer programmers, mathematicians, statisticians (23) 9. Transportation workers (22) 10. Corporate executives and managers, advertising and public relations (20) 11. Lawyers and workers in legal system (19) 12. Doctors, dentists and other health care professionals (19) 13. Scientists and lab technicians (17) 14. Accountants, others in business, financial operations (16) 15. Nursing, medical assistants, health care support (15) 16. Clergy, social workers, other social service workers (14) 17. Real estate agents, telemarketers, sales (13) 18. Building and ground, cleaning, maintenance (13) 19. Cooks, food service workers (13) 20. Child care workers, barbers, animal trainers, personal care and service (8)
ibelieveicansoar (8 days ago)
Pro Tip: If you're unable to get by on your income in one of the most expensive cities on earth... well, you can fill in the rest.
Oh well Uber and lyft is better and these cab drivers better sign up for Uber or lyft
Pdot (8 days ago)
Why can’t the cabs be Uber’s too?
Number Juan Driver (8 days ago)
The entire system is corrupt and a monopoly prior to uber and Lyft so what they should do is leave the taxi and join uber and Lyft if they want to succeed. The longer they wait the longer they will continue a downward spiral. Is there a reason they dont join uber or Lyft? In my opinion Don't wait for a corrupt system to be rearranged. Control your future by hustling and make money through other means. There are so many ways to make up the income you need to survive in this country, especially in a big city like New York.
Auguste Balls (8 days ago)
I don’t feel sorry for Yellow Cab drivers because most of them are rude,unprofessional and they lack basic knowledge of customer service.They don’t even bother greeting the customers.
sooperheep (8 days ago)
Please do more with Colin, he’s a genius
Bronx Bull (6 days ago)
The worst part of all is 99% of the idiots in the comments probably have no idea who Colin even is lol the last time he got this many reviews was on Remote Control 😂
gslizza (8 days ago)
Uber is Walmart . It's the Mexican guy that took your job for half the price . Part time drivers with new car and no experience ruin the buisness for full time guys.
Nat Quick (8 days ago)
Misleading title. . .
adanacman666 (8 days ago)
commiting suicide because of uber competition????gimmie a friggen break,i lost my job after 25 years, along with 400 other guys, when the place shut down,not one guy commited suicide,went out the next day, and started looking for another job,it took 6 months,but i got another job,ya starting all over again wasnt the most pleasent experience,but gratitude really helped.........
nhf2001 (8 days ago)
Let’s compare yellow cabs to uber. By now Uber is transparent about how much a ride will cost you even before you confirm the pickup. With yellow cabs you are always at the mercy of the meter and slow traffic and detours literally cost you money. Very stressful. Uber lets me pay with a credit card. Yellow cabs often say their credit card machine is “broken.” It’s no hassle for me to get an uber (or similar service). To get a yellow cab I need to stand outside waving at a parade of cars that may or may not stop for me, and when I get in they may or may not make a stink about driving me to where in want to go. Because the uber pickup system is integrated with GPS and online maps, the driver has a clear route to follow even if they aren’t personally familiar with the destination. The last time I took a yellow cab the driver did not know if Houston street was uptown or downtown... The ride hailing system is simply a superior customer experience. You expect me to shed a tear that the overpriced inferior service is going out of business just because a lot of immigrants do the job?
david d (8 days ago)
The whole medallion system was just a way for New York and other cities to scam drivers...it's basically a licence to taxinyou pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for....if any other profession had to pay 100k to be able to work...not education but just to work there'd be outrage but it's a mafia New York politicians made to suck money from taxi drivers...one of the stupidest systems I ever heard...akin to communism saying how many workers in each field we need and regulating it.
Karate Kid (8 days ago)
I thought this was Tough Crowd
Bronx Bull (6 days ago)
It's actually a deleted scene from Crocodile Dundee.
Sono (8 days ago)
I feel bad for the people who bought medallions jut before ride sharing became a thing
JP Easy Guitar (8 days ago)
Cab drivers enjoyed a government funded monopoly scheme for a while, they chose to buy into it. It destroyed it's own market and now they have no choice but to change if they don't want to lose. Sucks that their credentials (cab license) became worthless, but the same thing can happen with any investment- they can tank. It was a risk to do in the first place, and they bet wrong. Plus they reaped the rewards for a very long time.
promontorium (9 days ago)
Every job I've had either had a suicide, accident, or murder issue. Delivery driver top 10 in murders, military and Lyft/Uber driver - suicide, saw mill - well you can guess. I thought myself lucky I only ever smashed my fingers and got heat exhausted a few times.
SuperKing604 (9 days ago)
Start buying back medallions get drivers back to square one so At least they don’t have medallion debt. The city/state sold medallions as a guarantee that theyd be the only taxis if uber is allowed then the promise is broken.
SuperKing604 (9 days ago)
Shocked how little sympathy people in the comments have towards these cabbies. Yes the medallion system created a way to control supply and keep wages higher and therefore they had decent jobs. Uber is good for the consumers they dont have as many regulations to deal with. But now uber and lyft drivers are complaining about low pay and to many other people driving ubers. Sucks for the guys who still have medallions, either uber should have to follow taxi rules or taxis shouldn’t have to follow the rules either like licensing/insurance etc.
voteZDLR (9 days ago)
I wouldn't and don't support Uber right now for one reason only. Uber does not require background checks. Cab companies do. You never know if you're getting some guy who's been in jail a few times etc. You do not know. A lot of people can't find work if they're ex-cons especially and are turning to things like Uber and other things that won't even ask them if they've ever been incarcerated. Just saying. I don't support Uber, never have and never will. Support local cabbies. It's a lot harder to become one and they'll not only arrive faster usually they're also way more guaranteed to be professional than some random Uber driver could ever claim to be.
nodnoc (9 days ago)
Is 8 cab driver suicides really a crisis though?
Brian Miller (9 days ago)
eM powerZ (9 days ago)
I believe that in the near future, taxi company's will be WORKING TOGETHER with Uber. Uber can get a small percentage and taxi stands can use Ubers fanbase to keep a continuous flow of work. Win win.
Fred Hampton's Ghost (9 days ago)
Uber, Yellow Cab drivers need unity to fight bosses https://themilitant.com/2018/11/10/uber-yellow-cab-drivers-need-unity-to-fight-bosses/
Mark Z U C C (9 days ago)
Bruh I would kms if I was a taxi driver too
caspar flinder (9 days ago)
Why don't the cab drivers just start driving for uber or something instead of killing themselves.
Pedro Salazar (9 days ago)
caspar flinder Rewatch the entire video
Wary of Extremes (9 days ago)
You bought a medallion? You decided to invest in your own small company? You took the same risks as other entrepreneurs. Some buy in at the wrong time. Oh well.
SuperKing604 (9 days ago)
Wary of Extremes no its different for one the start up cost is way more also the city made a deal to limit who can be a cabbie now they broke the deal. City should buy the medallions back
JuxDeLux (9 days ago)
Colin can still get it. Not even sorry. #lennythelion
Jason Garcia (9 days ago)
Fck now I’m late for my Uber watching this! ✌🏽
Jessie Nicholas (9 days ago)
Ugh enough about the stupid medallions
Alejandro (9 days ago)
Why a company or group of people that provides basically the same service than another group that is taxed and the other does not have to pay taxes accoding to the U.S. government?
kk84 kk84 (9 days ago)
every cab i saw had a rider, couldnt hail one if I wanted to. And where is the app for the NYC medallion cab drivers!?! Plus there is only a limited amount of places they would go. Get with the times!
Phillip John Smith (9 days ago)
Once again people who don't understand innovation. Yellow cabs will died unless they innovate. It's not morals or good feelings that drive the markets its innovation. It's innovation that will save the world not politicians or government interference.
djwestbrook36 (9 days ago)
Honestly , yellow cabs are still preferable when you wanna go down a couple of streets. Or you near one of those taxi lines. If your in a condensed area, getting an Uber can actually be even MORE difficult. Uber is more convenient when your in the boroughs in your own home and you tryna get to the city
Antonio Georges (9 days ago)
I took a cab from Fort Lauderdale airport to Adventura and it cost me $50. The driver was driving around, took the long way and that’s why he jacked up the cost so high. A 15 minute ride at the most took 25 to 30 minutes. Because he was trying to get in my pocket. I took a Lyft to that same location when I came back to Florida and it was only $25. I’m sorry, I don’t feel sorry for them. Especially if you try to scam me in the Uber/lyft era. You’re dug your own grave for decades before Uber/Lyft and now people are supposed to feel sorry for you, FOH.
Jin Nij (9 days ago)
The black man is right
Poppa Boppa (9 days ago)
Colin Quinn is the greatest comedian in the entire fucking universe
AIR GAMES (9 days ago)
It was a dishonest system that had very poor service in the first place. I feel for the little guys that got screwed but they bought into a system that was fundamentally dishonest and flawed.
Fat had (9 days ago)
jamison allen (9 days ago)
yea once again a state/city government was invested in (the medallion) by its own residents and it has failed! But a "BIG" business venture capitalized and the state/city still get tax dollars... work for the people my ass!
Ieatstopsigns (9 days ago)
michele vitarelli (9 days ago)
I can smell those cabs from here...
michele vitarelli (9 days ago)
Uber and lyft did not kill the cab industry. The medallion system did.
michele vitarelli (9 days ago)
Colin Quinn from MTV remote control?
Bronx Bull (6 days ago)
Colin Quinn, international superstar and television sensation. 99.9% commenters won't even know who he is.
brbjuke45 (9 days ago)
I dont know, yellow cabs are an abundance in San Francisco
Bolt (9 days ago)
Only 8 in a year and this is considered a crisis? Seriously? 21 vets a day kill themselves, sorry I really don’t feel bad for the cab drivers. Nothing stays the same forever, things change. Either adapt or die. Thats reality.
Tonald Drump (9 days ago)
Capitalism baby👍🎅
bruh (9 days ago)
Honestly, I don't feel bad for cabbies. Yellow cab consistently sucked every time I've used it. They always want cash, they take the long way to make you pay more money, rude, and nasty cars. No thanks. Uber and Lyft are so much better.
TimeWarp66 (9 days ago)
Why should we stop technological progress in the name of protecting an inferior product like yellow cab? By this logic we would have crushed Henry Ford and still be riding horses and buggies.
Lautaro Cuttica (9 days ago)
oh the bitter swing of the pendulum... cab rides ALWAYS sucked, and they couldn't be bothered to treat people decently because they had no incentive.. and now because we have finally a decent alternative experience we are supposed to feel pity.. take that medallion and shove it up yur' Ash
Joshua Jackson (9 days ago)
I dont feel bad for them. They are to expensive. Charge weather you move or not. Arrive late sometimes an hr or more late. Capitalism adapt to the market or provide a better cheaper option. These guys can quit and uber when they lose the cab.
Sid John (9 days ago)
The city always had the say in how many taxi medallions can be put out per year which is why taxis have always been so limited, but they have no say in how many uber or lyft cars are out there since those are owned by private companies which is why it’s so hard for the taxi business to compete with the uber/lyft business.
Anthony (9 days ago)
People complain about socialism but when capitalism does its job, oh no it is the end of the world. Yellow Cabs had a state owned monopoly. Uber and Lyft added competition to the market. THAT is capitalism, buying medallions from a local municipality to have exclusive rights is socialism. If you want to support unfair criminal practices, keep supporting the yellow cabs. If you want to support your economy support and regulate ride hailing/sharing services.
babykolache (9 days ago)
Marshall Mathers (9 days ago)
The Invisible Hand of the Free Market.
Patrick Allen (9 days ago)
Colin the legend!
wîrelessKÏller (9 days ago)
Just a bomb them
Outlander Man Lama (9 days ago)
It’s too little too late for NYC government and TLC come to rescue individuals medallion owners, but I am sympathetic towards single medallion owner. Thanks for bringing this issue.
Thang Ta (9 days ago)
Listen to this guy at 5:38 "people can go back to what they were doing", "they were washing dishes, they can go back to that" His shit attitude threw me off. I was kind of sympathizing how hard it must have been the transitioning was but I remember now some cab drivers being like that is also a big part of Uber's success.
PowdaToastFace Killah (9 days ago)
I live in Brooklyn, half the yellow cabs didn't ever wanna go to Brooklyn from Manhattan (until gentrification), and you can't find yellows around my crib. Uber and Lyft completely leveled the playing field for outer borough residents and I feel no sympathy for the yellows
gottabump (9 days ago)
Dude I would go wash dishes before I coughed up 100+g for a dam cab medallion.. Fukin greedy slob pigs NY state is
Bent Neatly (9 days ago)
if this happened in every industry, who would be left working?
Justin Turner (9 days ago)
🙄 Colin isn’t dead yet from his AIDS?
Bronx Bull (6 days ago)
He caught it crusing Central Park back in the 80's under his pseudonym "Ken Fresno."
Malik A (9 days ago)
Yellow taxi London cabs need to adapt, make a app, take card payments, they're are card payment like iZettle sumup which are right for taxi but you talk to uber drivers they are not happy coz uber take so much commission so I wouldn't work for neither
MR stealyobitch (9 days ago)
The other problem is as soon as I sit in the cab I already owe you 2.50. Without even riding
Galad H (9 days ago)
Thank god for uber as New York resident I will not miss the yellow cab.
Yamanite X (9 days ago)
More people should commit suicide
Psic Goretti (9 days ago)
It's a just a question of fair competition. Cabbies need to pay good money for a medallion in order to work. Uber drivers don't. They see It as a change of rules against them during halftime.
BRUH McKeon (9 days ago)
yeah cabs are done. like the newspaper. just the way it goes
Gabriel A Solis (9 days ago)
they are so mean, late, and $$$$$
AUTOxMATIC (9 days ago)
City is going to have to buy back the medallions and rebrand yellow cab system. Either subsidize them and undercut uber or go opposite way and make them luxury experiences with TVs and heated seats and whatnot. NY is synonymous w yellow cabs so they'll be reluctant to go the path of least resistance and let the system die out.

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