Thousands of debt-ridden New York City cab drivers will finally see relief through a city-backed loan program starting next month, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Tuesday.

Under the “Medallion Relief Program +” – an agreement between the city, the taxi drivers’ union, and lenders – taxi medallion debts will be capped at $200,000. The agreement was first announced in November after a 15-day cab driver hunger strike. After months of waiting for the city to get the program up and running, officials on Tuesday said it will be operational starting on September 19th.

The city has also agreed to make $30,000 down payments on the loans and pick up the cost of the medallion loan if the owner defaults on it.

Adams announced the new version of the deal on Tuesday after finalizing with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance – the union that represents drivers – and Marblegate – the largest taxi medallion lender in the city.

“This was nine long months. We wish it had gone much faster,” NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai told Gothamist. “One of the consequences of it taking so long is that the interest rate, which we had agreed to at 5% back in November, is now going to go up to 7.3% in light of inflation ... but overall, it's a tremendous gain for us.”

Augustine Tang, 38, at a demonstration with his fellow taxi medallion owners in November 2021.

The higher rates will make the monthly payment cap $1,234 instead of previously agreed upon $1,122. To offset that added cost, the program has extended terms from 20 to 25 years. For drivers, who previously had debts averaging $550,000 with $3,000 monthly payments, the deal is a weight off their shoulders.

“It's giving us a new life,” said 38-year-old Augustine Tang who inherited a medallion and the $530,000 debt that came with it when his father died in 2015. “I just had a baby three months ago. And for us, we've been, you know, I've been fighting for this way before that, and it was very difficult for us to really plan for a future.”

Taxi medallions – which allow owners to operate a yellow cab – were valued at more than $1.2 million before they crashed in 2014. Since then, medallion owners have been grappling with massive debts, which took a toll on their mental health, contributing to multiple suicides across the industry.