A Bailout for Taxi Drivers? The Mayor Says No, but Others Keep Pushing The New York Times Council members are battling with City Hall over how to help thousands of cabdrivers who are struggling with overwhelming debt. After it emerged that that left them with overwhelming debt, city leaders took steps to keep it from happening again. They have begun enforcement proceedings against brokers who arranged the loans, , strengthened oversight and written new rules. But there is one thing they have not offered: a bailout for the cabbies who are still struggling. Its great to say never again, but its not enough, said Mark D. Levine, one of 10 members of the City Council who, along with the citys comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, have said they support at least a partial bailout of affected drivers. Its just incredibly frustrating that all of the response has been about trying to prevent further fraud and abuse going forward without doing anything about the fraud and abuse that has already occurred. The tension is expected to increase Monday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to release the results of he ordered after The New York Times reported on the exploitative loans. The review — City Halls main response to the crisis — calls for more oversight and tighter rules, but it does not raise the idea of a bailout. The Timess investigation, which was published in May, found that taxi industry leaders had artificially inflated the price of the permit — called a medallion — that allows drivers to own a cab and made hundreds of millions of dollars by directing drivers into risky loans they could not afford. The price of a medallion soared to more than dollar 1 million in 2014, from dollar 200,000 in 2002, before crashing, leaving thousands with underwater loans, The Times found. Industry leaders have denied wrongdoing and placed the blame on the city for allowing ride hailing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, into the market with little regulation. More than 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy. Thousands more are struggling to survive. In its review, the city determined that the brokers who usually arranged the medallion sales, as well as the loans, were plagued by conflicts of interest and frequently violated city rules, including by failing to explain loan terms to borrowers, according to a summary obtained by The Times. As a result, the summary says, several brokers could face fines. The summary recommends that the city require brokers to disclose more information about themselves and their loans; translate documents into 10 languages; publish all future broker violations online; and create a city unit to more closely supervise industry leaders. But the split over a potential bailout is the biggest dispute among city officials in response to The Timess investigation. Asked about a bailout, the mayors office noted that the city had already agreed to and had started to build a driver assistance center to give financial counseling and mental health services to drivers. A full bailout would cost billions, the office said. City Hall has estimated that it could cost about dollar 13 billion, although some councilmen say it could be done for less money. The office also referred to the mayors comments in a recent radio interview, in which he said that a lot of people in the city are suffering and that not everybody can be bailed out. On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio released a statement saying: This report shines a light on many of the predatory practices of the broker industry and with this new insight, well be able to do even more to help taxi drivers too long taken advantage of by those they trusted for guidance and help. If youre a cabdriver in New York City, know were in your corner and that this is just a start. Corey Johnson, the speaker of the Council, declined to comment. He has sponsored legislation to prevent future problems but has not publicly said whether he supports a bailout. In the weeks since the investigation was published, Attorney General Letitia James of New York has opened an inquiry into the lending practices, and political leaders in Albany and Washington have begun discussions about holding hearings and drafting legislation. But advocates for cabdrivers said the city has the biggest obligation to respond to the crisis because of its role in causing it. Drivers dont want some city official telling them theyre getting screwed over, said Bhairavi Desai, the founder of the Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents medallion owners as well as drivers who work for taxi fleets. They want to know how their poverty is going to end. For years, the investigation found, . The Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city agency that oversees the industry, went even further, choosing to sell medallions and running advertisements claiming that the permits were better than the stock market and a path to a worry free retirement. Some members of the City Council expressed optimism that the mayor and other officials will ultimately support a bailout. This conversation is really just beginning, and I really hope were going to get there, Councilman Stephen T. Levin said. But others expressed deep frustration. Several said they were dismayed by City Halls estimate for a bailout, which is based on paying dollar 1 million to buy back each of the citys 13,587 medallions. Some councilmen, including Ydanis Rodriguez, the transportation committee chairman; Ritchie Torres, the oversight committee head; and Brad Lander, the deputy leader for policy, said a bailout would target only medallions that are owned by individual drivers, not fleets. There are between 4,000 and 6,000 driver owners, they said. In addition, the councilmen said, the city would not need to spend dollar 1 million per medallion. The average borrower owes about dollar 500,000 on a medallion. Under one proposal, the city would provide about dollar 100,000 per medallion, with the driver keeping a debt of about dollar 200,000 and the lender being pressured to forgive the rest of the loan. We dont have to buy it all back, but we need to do something, Mr. Rodriguez said. City Hall needs to work with us to figure this out.