SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Some embattled San Francisco taxi drivers, struggling to survive in the face of competition from Lyft and Uber, have received letters calling for full repayment of their taxi medallion loans.
It’s the latest wrinkle in the long, dark saga that is the meltdown of the San Francisco taxi industry. About a dozen letters demanding loan repayment sent out drivers have cab operators even more worried.
“They send me the letter, you know? I cannot sleep. I’m nervous, all week, nervous,” explained cab driver Tien Bui.
Heis just one of the San Francisco taxi drivers who received a letter demanding full payment on the balloon loan issued for his medallion.
“$176,000,” he explained, looking at the letter. “I cannot afford that.”
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The letters, received by about a dozen drivers, has everyone holding a similar balloon loan worried that they could be receiving the next letter.
“Definitely, wondering who’s next,” said driver Matt Sutter. He says the letters were just the first surprise, before learning the loans themselves had changing hands.
“The drivers, they went in with these letters, to the bank, and were told that they were bundled into a loan and sold,” said Sutter.
The San Francisco Federal Credit Union has now acknowledged to KPIX 5 that it has sold what it calls “participation interests” in some of its medallion loans. By law, it cannot say how many and to whom.
The action by the credit union raises more questions — and the stakes — for drivers who were already feeling endangered.
“Yeah, I want to keep the medallion. I want a job, you know?” said Tien. “I have a family. I take care of family. If they take it back, I don’t have a job [or] work.”
Drivers are still asking the city to help them out of the financial situations they find themselves in with regards to the medallion loans. And the San Francisco Federal Credit Union says it expects its lawsuit against the city could go to trial as soon as December.