Pandemic threatens NewYork’s iconic yellow taxis

New York, Feb 15 (AFP):
They were omnipresent on the streets of New York day and night, as emblematic of the Big Apple as the Empire State Building or Yankees caps. But the pandemic has made yellow taxis scarce and facing an uncertain future. On a February morning in a parking lot near La Guardia Airport, a few dozen of the yellow cabs patiently queue in the freezing cold to catch a fare from one of the terminals.
“This lot used to be full with hundreds of cabs and even a line outside,” says 65-year-old Joey Olivo, recalling the days before coronavirus. “Now there is only about 50 and you wait two hours, when before you’d wait 20 minutes,” adds Olivo, a taxi driver for three decades. Widespread working from home, school closures and no tourists means rides have plummeted for Olivo, as they have for all of New York’s cabbies. “It’s been pretty bad. My earnings dropped 80 percent. I went from making maybe $1,000 a week to making two or 300 dollars a week,” he told AFP. Olivo, who lives in Brooklyn, is trying to put a brave face on his situation, joking that he is lucky his wife “makes good money” as a nurse, otherwise “I would have had a rope around my neck.” New York taxi drivers, most of whom are first-generation immigrants, were once able to make $7,000 a month or more if they worked long hours seven days a week.

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