Weather: Cool and rainy; high in the 50s. Sunny, cool and breezy on Saturdays. Warmer Sunday, with a possibility of late showers.

Parking on the alternative side: In effect today. Suspended tomorrow for Diwali.

Since the worst days of the pandemic in New York City, the aspects of city life that the taxi industry relies on the most have yet to bounce back.

Tourists are no longer flocking to airports, and foot traffic has declined in Manhattan’s busiest neighborhoods, leaving many yellow cab drivers to search for fare for hours.

[Read about how the pandemic has pushed cabbies to the brink.]

To learn more about the state of ridership and the plight of taxi drivers, I chatted with my colleague Brian M. Rosenthal, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Metro Desk investigative reporter. for his presentation of the New York City taxi industry. Here’s a edited version of our conversation:

Q. How has the pandemic exacerbated the crisis facing New York taxi drivers?

A. The pandemic has been very hard on the taxi industry. The city is not functioning at its normal level, and a lot of the things that are the most restricted right now are helping the taxi industry the most. I’m talking about air travel, tourism, Broadway and Midtown Manhattan in general, where taxis concentrate their work.

Many taxi drivers have stopped working altogether, due to the lack of customers and the risk of falling ill at work.

While some industries have at least recovered a little and even Uber has made a significant recovery, the taxi industry is still crippled. Best available revenue data showed the industry was making 81% less money than a year ago. Taxi drivers are simply unable to make a living at this level.

You revealed last year that thousands of taxi drivers were trapped in bad loans they could not afford in order to purchase a taxi medallion – the license that allows a driver to own a yellow cab. Now, as the pandemic has brought ridership down, should drivers continue to pay off their loans?

For the most part, lenders have not required drivers who own medallions to pay during the pandemic. But that is about to change.

Some of the lenders who initially did not require payments have now started to request payments. There is a feeling in the industry that lenders are going to get tougher.

Before the virus hit, the state attorney general accused the city of committing fraud by artificially inflating the value of the lockets. She planned to sue the city for $ 810 million and then use the money to compensate drivers. Did it happen?

This threat of prosecution is pending, much like many things in the pandemic. We have not heard from the Attorney General as to whether and when she will continue the prosecution.

What other help is on the way for the drivers, if any?

Some lenders are already restructuring loans and the city has also set up a driver assistance center to help taxi drivers renegotiate.

There is now a new proposal from the Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents many owner-drivers. The plan is based on a massive loan restructuring, where all loans would be reset and reduced to $ 125,000, with favorable terms that would allow drivers to repay the loan.

Lenders should agree to this. But in return, they would receive a guarantee from the city that if one of these loans failed, the city would step in and back the payments. Then the city would get protections against the lawsuit brought by the attorney general.

The proposal has secured the backing of the city comptroller, who is not only responsible for overseeing the city’s finances, but is also a prominent candidate for mayor. Presumably, if he wins this race, he could implement this proposal himself.

What does the future of the industry look like?

The industry will endure and innovate. But depending on what happens in the coming months, the city could lose a generation of these hard-working immigrant drivers facing increasing financial distress.

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New state law allows New Yorkers to cancel gym memberships. [Gothamist]

An employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and three other people were arrested for having smuggled weapons and sold them illegally. [Daily News]

The future Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was shot in Oneonta, NY [NBC New York]

Melissa Guerrero of The Times writes:

Although many performance spaces, museums and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are some suggestions for socializing in NYC this weekend while keeping a safe distance from others.

Celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Good Room in Brooklyn with live DJ sets from 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the program, visit the Good Room’s website.

RSVP for free or with a donation on the event page.

At Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., take part in a two-day Instagram Live festival on Thanksgiving. Get recipes, play holiday cooking trivia, attend cooking classes and more.

Access the free event on Kitchn’s Instagram pages.

Enjoy a panel discussion on the Central Brooklyn Food Co-op on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. Member-owners of the cooperative will discuss its history and vision for a healthy, local food chain that the community oversees. The discussion is part of the Weeksville Heritage Center event “Will Capitalism Feed Us?” Feed an appetite for a cooperative world beyond.

Sign up for the free livestream on the event page.

It’s Friday, the sun will rise tomorrow.

Dear Diary:

It was in February. I was nearing the end of my first year of college and felt a little unstable and lost.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, I took a train from my college town to New York City. I thought a weekend of aimless wandering in my favorite place would be exactly what I needed.

The day after Valentine’s Day, some friends and I took to a bakery in West Village to protect ourselves from the cold. As we sat there I noticed a beautiful heart-shaped chocolate cake with pink frosting exposed. It cost $ 40.

My friends and I started to joke, saying that if we had enough money we would buy the cake and eat it ourselves as a bit of self-indulgence at a time when we felt we deserved something. sugar.

A few minutes later, the woman behind the counter said she was lowering the price of the cake from $ 40 to $ 10.

“Who would want to buy a heart-shaped cake the day after Valentine’s Day?” “ she said with a mischievous smile.

We ate everything that night.

– Livia Blum

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