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NEW YORK — Richard Chow discovered his younger brother’s taxi abandoned outside Carl Schurz Park, a 15-acre Manhattan oasis overlooking the East River. He began to panic.

紐約——理查德·周(Richard Chow)發現弟弟的出租車被遺棄在卡爾·舒爾茨公園外。他開始緊張起來。

For months, he had watched his brother and fellow cabdriver, Kenny, struggle under enormous debt. Kenny had grown distant and despondent. Now he had disappeared.
幾個月來,他眼睜睜地看著弟弟肯尼,一名出租車司機,因為巨額債務而掙扎,沮喪,疏遠家人,最后失蹤。


Richard searched the taxi and then the park, scouring around the gardens, the playgrounds and a bronze statue of Peter Pan. Finally, he called the police.

在找到弟弟的出租車后,理查德先在出租車里搜尋了一遍,然后進入公園,在花園、游樂場和彼得·潘的銅像周圍尋找。一無所獲
最后,他報了警。



An economic crisis has swept over New York City’s taxi industry, spreading financial ruin and personal despair, especially for owners of medallions, the permits that let people operate cabs.

目前,一場經濟危機席卷了紐約市的出租車行業,不斷有人破產,人們絕望的情緒在不斷的蔓延,尤其是那些獲得出租車駕駛牌照——也就是出租車營運許可證的司機當中,悲觀的情緒尤甚。

More than 4,000 drivers have used their life savings to buy medallions. Richard and Kenny were among them.

在紐約,有超過4000名出租車司機用畢生積蓄購買了營運許可證。理查德和肯尼也在其中。

For more than a decade, as The New York Times has reported this year, taxi industry leaders artificially inflated medallion prices and channeled purchasers into exploitative loans that they could not afford. The medallion bubble began to collapse in late 2014. Prices plummeted. But the drivers remained stuck with massive loans.

正如《紐約時報》今年報道的那樣,十幾年來,出租車行業的領導者,人為地抬高了營運許可證的購買價格,并且有意引導購買者背負無力償還的剝削性貸款。
雖然出租車營運許可證的泡沫在2014年底開始破裂,價格暴跌。但這些購買了許可證的出租車司機仍然背負著巨額貸款。

Thousands of owners, almost all born outside the United States, have lost all of their savings. More than 950 have filed for bankruptcy. And several have died by suicide.

這些成千上萬的營運許可證持有者幾乎都是在美國境外出生的,他們為了購買執照失去了所有積蓄?,F在,已有超過950人申請破產。多人自殺身亡。



The family moved to Taiwan in 1980. The brothers got jobs at the same factory, dyeing wool for sweaters. They saved most of their earnings, but occasionally they splurged on a trip to the movies to see the latest American action film.

理查德全家于1980年搬到臺灣。兄弟倆進入同一家毛衣印染廠工作。他們把大部分收入存起來,不過偶爾也會揮霍一下,去看最新的美國動作片。

Eventually, they pursued their own American adventure. After an older sister married a Taiwanese American, they got green cards.

最終,他們要去美國冒險了。在一個姐姐嫁給一個臺裔美國人后,他們得到了綠卡。

“We wanted to go to United States because we heard it was the best place,” another brother, Jojo, said in an interview. “We heard about it in movies, in books. We dreamed of going there.”

“我們想去美國,因為我們聽說那里是最好的地方,”理查德另一個兄弟喬喬(Jojo)在接受采訪時說?!拔覀儚碾娪昂蜁镎J識的美國。我們夢想去美國?!?br />
One night in late September 1987, several of the siblings boarded the last flight of the day from Taipei to New York. Richard and Kenny sat next to each other.

1987年9月下旬的一個晚上,幾個兄弟姐妹登上當天從臺北到紐約的最后一班飛機。理查德和肯尼坐在一起。

When the Chows landed at Kennedy Airport, they did not speak any English.

當飛機在肯尼迪機場降落時,周家人一句英語也不會說。

At first, the siblings lived with their mother in a two-bedroom apartment in Chinatown. Soon, they forged their own paths. Jojo moved to California. A sister moved to Philadelphia.

起初,兄弟姊妹和母親一起住在唐人街的一套兩居室公寓里。很快,他們找到了各自的出路。喬喬搬到了加利福尼亞。一個姊妹搬到了費城

But for years, Kenny followed Richard.

但是那么多年來,肯尼一直跟著理查德。

They began as restaurant deliverymen, fighting the rain and snow to deliver Chinese food. Then they joined the jewelry business, as diamond setters.

他們一開始給飯店當送餐員,冒著雨雪送中餐。然后他們進入珠寶行業,做鉆石鑲嵌。

“I’m the older brother,” Richard said in an interview. “He looking at me. It’s Chinese tradition. The older brother takes care of young brother.”

“我是哥哥,”理查德在接受采訪時說?!拔乙疹櫵?。這是中國的傳統。哥哥要照顧弟弟?!?br />
The older brother entered the taxi industry first, too. He started driving for a fleet in 2005, after a friend suggested it. He liked the job, but he hated waking before sunrise for his shift. So the next year, when the city sold medallions at auctions, he bid.

率先進入出租車行業的也是哥哥。2005年,在朋友的建議下,理查德開始為一個出租車公司開車。他喜歡這個工作,但他討厭在天不亮就得起床上早班。因此,第二年紐約開始拍賣出租車營運執照時,他參加了競拍。



By then, medallion prices were skyrocketing. Large fleet owners like Freidman were intentionally overpaying for medallions to increase the value of their portfolios. Lenders were issuing reckless loans, and as in the housing bubble, the easy money inflated prices more.

那時,營運執照價格飛漲。像弗萊德曼這樣的大出租車公司,老板為了增加自己的投資價值,故意炒高營運執照的價格。放貸人不計后果地發放貸款,就像在房地產泡沫時一樣,寬松的貸款使得營運執照價格進一步膨脹。

The younger brother could not secure a conventional loan. But he later told friends that a broker helped him to leverage the equity in his house for a down payment to make it work.

肯尼無法獲得常規貸款。但他后來告訴朋友,一位經紀人幫他利用房產抵押貸款付了首付,解決了這個問題。

Kenny bought his medallion at a private sale on Aug. 5, 2011. It was only a few years after his brother’s purchase. But including the taxes and fees, it cost more than $750,000.

2011年8月5日,肯尼在一次私下拍賣中買下了他的營運執照。雖然離哥哥買到營運執照沒過幾年,但是包括稅費在內,肯尼花了超過了75萬美元。

After his loan hit the four-year mark, when he was supposed to repay everything, the nonprofit Melrose Credit unx called and offered to extend his loan and lend him an additional $150,000. He agreed. He said he used the money to repay the family who had covered his down payment. Melrose issued the check in less than an hour, he added.

當貸款達到四年期限,他應該償還所有債務時,非營利組織梅爾羅斯信用合作社(Melrose Credit unx)打來電話,提出延長貸款期限,并且再借給他15萬美元。
他同意了。他說,他會用這筆錢來償還為他湊齊首付的家人。他還說,梅爾羅斯信用合作社在立即不到一小時內開出了支票。

When medallion prices passed $1 million, the wives implored the brothers to sell.

當營運執照的價格炒到100萬美元時,兩兄弟的妻子哀求他們趕緊把營運執照賣了。

“I’m not scared,” Kenny said, his brother recalled. “Are you scared?”
“No,” Richard said. “I trust the city.”
Soon after, the medallion bubble burst.
‘He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t work.’

“我不害怕,”肯尼當時說?!按蟾缒闩聠??”
“不,”理查德說?!拔倚湃芜@座城市?!?br /> 不久,營運執照的泡沫破裂了,價格直線下跌。
理查德回憶說,弟弟開始睡不著。也沒法工作?!?br />
The brothers worked seven days a week, and they only made a little more than they needed for their monthly loan payments. Richard’s was $3,500; Kenny’s was more than $4,000.

兄弟倆每周工作7天,每月收入只比需要償還的貸款多一點點。理查德要還3500美元;肯尼要還的錢超過了4000美元。

The math got tougher as ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft grew in popularity, reducing their riders and revenues.

隨著優步(Uber)和Lyft等網約車服務越來越受歡迎,他倆的乘客數量和營收都在減少,要維持收支平衡越來越困難。

Richard said he and Kenny asked for leniency on their loan payments and were rebuffed. Instead, records show, Melrose moved to tighten its grip on the Chows.

理查德說,他和肯尼要求貸款機構通融處理,但遭到了拒絕。記錄顯示,梅爾羅斯反而增加了對兩兄弟的限制。

Kenny’s original loans listed him as the sole borrower, and his medallion as the only collateral.

在最初的貸款中,肯尼是唯一的借款人,他的營運執照是唯一的抵押品。

But in 2016, Melrose added Kenny’s wife as a co-debtor and expanded the collateral to include everything they owned or would ever own. Kenny signed, although it is unclear if he understood the change. He did not have a lawyer.

但在2016年,梅爾羅斯將肯尼的妻子列為共同債務人,并擴大了抵押品范圍,包括他們擁有的或未來可能擁有的全部財產。在合同上,肯尼簽了名,至于他是否注意到這一變化就不得而知了。他當時依然沒有請律師。

Melrose, under pressure from its regulator, the National Credit unx Administration, also threatened to sue many medallion owners in 2017.

最后,在監管機構國家信用社管理局(National Credit unx Administration)的壓力下,梅爾羅斯信用社威脅要在2017年起訴許多營運執照的持有者。



On the night that Kenny disappeared, May 11, 2018, Richard clung to hope. He knew driving could be exhausting, so he thought his brother had lain down and fallen into a deep slumber. Or maybe he went on a meditation retreat, or on a hunt for extra money.

2018年5月11日,在肯尼失蹤的那個晚上,理查德依然抱著一線希望。他知道開車很累,所以他以為弟弟只是找了個地方沉沉睡去了?;蛘呷プ鲒は胫委熈?,又或者是去賺外快了。

After a week, Richard led a news conference to publicize the case. He distributed posters: “MISSING: 5 feet 6 inches tall. Weight about 140 lbs. Last seen wearing white T-shirt and khaki pants.”

一周后,理查德召開新聞發布會,通報了弟弟失蹤的情況。他還到處分發尋人啟事:“失蹤者身高5英尺6英寸。體重約140磅。最后看到時身穿白色T恤和卡其褲?!?br />
The next day, a television reporter knocked on Kenny’s door and asked his wife if she thought he was alive. “I have no idea,” she said through tears. “I’m very scared.”

第二天,一個電視記者敲開肯尼家的門,問肯尼的妻子認為肯尼是否還活著。
“我不知道,”肯尼的妻子流著淚說?!拔液芎ε??!?br />
On May 23, someone spotted a body in the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge, six miles south of the park where Kenny’s cab had been abandoned. It took the authorities three days to confirm the body was Kenny, using dental records.

5月23日,有人在布魯克林大橋附近的東河邊發現了一具尸體,位于肯尼的出租車被丟棄的公園以南6英里處。當局用了三天時間才根據牙醫記錄確認死者是肯尼。

At a vigil, Richard could barely speak. “I loved my brother,” he said as he wept. “He was very hardworking. He loved his family. That’s all I want to say.”

悼念儀式上的理查德幾乎說不出話來?!拔覑畚业艿?,”他哭著說?!八浅EΦ墓ぷ?。他愛家人。這就是我想說的?!?br />
Because of the change listing Kenny’s wife as a co-debtor, she inherited his loan when he died. But it did not torment her for long. She died a few months after her husband. Their daughter, who did not get entrapped in the loan, has returned to college. She is now 23.

由于合同的變化,肯尼的妻子也被列為共同債務人,肯尼去世后,她繼承了他的貸款。但這并沒有令她痛苦很久。她只比丈夫晚幾個月去世。他們的女兒沒有被這筆貸款所困,已經回到大學。她今年23歲。

It is impossible to know why anyone takes his or her own life. But friends believe Kenny was overwhelmed by his loans and by competition from ride-hailing. They do not think it was a coincidence that he left his cab two blocks from Gracie Mansion, the traditional home of the mayor, in a city that had ignored bad lending practices and allowed Uber and Lyft to encroach.

一個人自殺的原因可能永遠無從得知。但朋友們認為,肯尼被貸款和網約車服務的競爭壓垮了。紐約市無視不良貸款行為,允許優步和Lyft侵蝕出租車司機的地盤,因此,他們認為,肯尼把出租車停在傳統的市長官邸——格雷西大廈兩個街區外的地方并不是巧合。

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio noted he did not take office until 2014. “One of our first actions was halting medallion sales, and we were one of the first and most ardent voices for curbing the rapid growth of corporations like Uber,” she said.

紐約市長的發言人指出,“我們首先采取的行動之一是叫營運執照的銷售,我們是最早也是最積極地要求遏制優步等打車公司快速擴張的聲音之一,”市長發言人說。

Bill Heinzen, who has been the acting head of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission since March, released a statement that mentioned that his own brother had died by suicide. “The death of Kenny Chow and other drivers deeply affected us,” Heinzen said.

自今年3月以來,一直擔任紐約市出租車委員會代主席的比爾·海因策(Bill Heinzen)發表了一份聲明,其中提到他自己也有個兄弟自殺身亡?!翱夏帷ぶ芎推渌緳C的死深深地觸動了我們,”海因策說。



Today, Richard is still struggling to pay his own loan. He owes $402,000, and he said it is hard to make the $2,766 monthly payments. He cannot support his daughter and his son, 19, who are both in school.

如今,理查德仍在為償還自己的貸款而苦苦掙扎。他還欠了40.2萬美元,他說,每月償還2766美元非常艱難。他無法養活女兒和19歲的兒子,兩人都在上學。

He said if officials do not bail out medallion owners, as they are now considering, he plans to declare bankruptcy.

理查德說,官方應該考慮救助營運執照的持有者,如果他們做不到,他將宣布破產。

For now, Richard works seven days a week, typically from 10 a.m. until midnight.

目前,理查德每周工作七天,通常是從上午10點到午夜。

Every day, to get to work, he takes the Brooklyn Bridge, driving over the river where his younger brother took his last breath.

每天他都會經由布魯克林大橋去上班,在弟弟喪命的那條河上駛過。