On Feb. 26, the cab industry changes, radically

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The San Francisco taxi industry will undergo a major change starting Feb. 26, when the Municipal Transportation Agency is expected to adopt a complete transformation of how cab medallions -- the permits needed to operate a taxi in the city -- are allocated. You can read the proposal here. In essence, it would allow cab medallions -- which are now allocated to individual drivers on the basis of seniority on a waiting list -- to be sold on the open market.

It's a tricky proposition. But the mayor appoints the MTA board, and the mayor wants this -- both to help with the city's budget problems and because, well, he's always supported privatization of some public assets, and that's what this proposal amounts to.

And here's a little stinker that's part of the deal: The MTA currently has 30 of the valuable medallions just sitting around in a desk. Those are permits that could be issued to the top 30 drivers on the waiting list -- many of whom have been driving for 15 years or so while they slowly rose to the top of the list.

Instead, if the proposal passes, those medallions -- or at least some of them -- will be sold off, over the counter, at prices that could reach $400,000.

Judson True, the MTA's spokesperson, confirmed that there were 30 unallocated permits on hand right now and that at least half would likely be sold at market rate. The MTA is budgeting $15 million for direct permit sales.

So if you're, say, number 16 on the waiting list, and 15 people ahead of you get permits that are currently available -- and the next 15 are sold, and you can't afford it -- you're SOL. Until someone else dies and another permit comes up -- unless that permit is sold, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

The part of me that sees cabs sailing by because I'm clutching a full Trader Joe's bag while the tourists get instant pickups is weeping with sadness. No, really.

Posted by dantsea on Feb. 24, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

The part of me that sees cabs sailing by because I'm clutching a full Trader Joe's bag while the tourists get instant pickups is weeping with sadness. No, really.

Posted by dantsea on Feb. 24, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

I don't really see this as privatization as they were already in private hands, just as the far right though Bill Clinton was to blame for entropy the cities left thinks Newsom has some plan to thwart the progressives at every tin foil hat turn.

This is just about money and the city getting its paws on it. Imagine the city screwing the citizens out of money one new scheme at a time... thank god there is the Guardian to stand against that.

The author does point out the real problem with the change, people have been driving a cab for years expecting to get a Medallion, months or years away the city says "tough luck."

From what I can tell having a medallion allows for cab drivers to cut back later in life and drive less and rent out the Medallion.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 24, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

I was a Taxi Commissioner for 2003 and 2004. We studied this issue, and
decided it was against the public interest, because:
1) Sure as the sun comes up in the morning, there will be ENORMOUS upward pressure on cab fares, so the the "medallion owner" can recoup their $400,000 purchase.

2)This really "changes the rules" for those who were on the Medallion Waiting List, for up to 20 years. They thought they were "paying their dues", to some day get the Medallion, and its $20,000 a year 'lease income value"...

This plan trashes the pact between the Taxi Authority and the driver, toally.

3) Selling the Medallions does ZERO to address the matters of "cab supply"
and "driver praictices. Zero.
....it just makes the taxi scene a total "Barons and Serfs" game....., oh:
...and it brings onto the scene "Medallion Lending Banks, who specialize in
very profitable "medallion loans, and nothing else" Not a "bailout", a "bail-in".!

+++++++++++
Respect these hard working drivers. (If, as they age, they drive less and "lease out" the medallion driving rights,...that is letting more and younger folks work their way up the system sooner.. It does not take a cab off the road, ...not for a minute!
++++++++++
If the MTA, in its "infinite wisdom", thinks there need be more Medallion issued, today, they face no real pressure against it... , but if the Medallions were owned by buyers, at $400,000 per, they would SCREAM "you ARE devaluing my investment, how dare you!.

++++++++++++
Why not "privitize" the license to operate a bar or restaurant or hotel, if the City is so strapped?
Why not find a way around Prop 13 which only lets the city increase property taxes 2% a year, unless sold.? How about bumping that to "60% of the "COLA" ...... or some permutation of what Cambridge, Mass does : give huge "owner/occupier" residential property tax credits, such that I pay One Half of One Percent on the condo I bought, and the city of Cambridge makes up for it in commercial property taxes.

Yes, lets raise some taxes, but not by "taxing the taxi riders".

jack barry

Posted by Guest John E. Barry on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 7:09 am

I would be the first to side with Mr. Barry's thoughts, but just to clarify the situation for everyone, here are some of the stipulations of this so-called reform:

only driver 70+ or are on ADA have priority to sell their medallions
(pro: at their age or condition, the can "retire" with some money in hand)
(con: if these aged or ailing drivers passed away, their medallion would goes to the next eligible driver on the wait list, but will now be sold...so the #16 being SOL)

drivers with the highest seniority on the wait list gets priority to purchase a medallion
(pro: if you're #19 on the list and have money or the ability to finance, and 16-18 can't afford it, you can jump the line and get one right away)
con: you're on the waitlist and cant afford it...next thing you know 15 other people have medallions...)

money from this sale will help with the mta budget
(pro: reduce the fiscal impact on customers if mta actually gets their crisis under control)
(con: prior to the merge, the taxi commission was a revenue generating, self sustaining entity...now, all the money generated from taxis are funneled into the "general" fund...so muni or dpt can all dip into it, while the taxi group is still understaffed and over worked)

Past members of the Taxi Commission have also expressed similar feelings to those of Mr. Barry.

God save San Francisco!

Posted by Guest annonymous on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 11:12 am

Your "respect" paragraph is the deal killer for me, a system was set up for people to own a medallion, now because again the city knows better its changing the rules.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

This is a scheme by the SFMTA to generate revenue for their agency from an already cash strapped industry. Never mind the facts, they just want to generate revenue. They've designed this from the top down and it's all based on the ignorant "they do it in New York" mantra that I am so sick of hearing. We're here, we aren't in New York.

Oversimplification and guessing are all symptoms of ignorance. The facts are that there is absolutely no legitimate lending infrastructure in place.

There is no reason anyone with any sense would buy a taxi medallion that requires them to work a minimum number of hours (part of the proposal) every year or they will have it revoked. Why spend $400k on a business that can't (by SFMTA's own proposal) be sold later at market value and that can be revoked or devalued on a whim? What bank would finance that? Instead a person could buy a coin op laundry or some other self sustaining business.

The fact here is that this was a dumb idea and the Mayor is hell bent on copying Mayor Bloomberg. One big problem though, NYC's cabs are traded on the free market and banks can repo the medallions, then resell them. They have a guaranteed return. Also the owner doesn't have to drive.

I could go on but this proposal is so full of holes that if it was a damn the water would be at the same level on either side.

Posted by Athan on Feb. 24, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

It is unfortunate that the city is furthur squeezing its workers rather than looking for new sources of revenue such as keeping nightlife open later at night. 98 per cent of the United States goes to bed at 9 PM, San Francisco deserves to be a place that stays open all night, to hell with MADD, this city has plenty of hotel rooms and public transit to get people home without them driving! As a cabbie I see a lot of money not being spent and a lot of fun not being had as the ABC forces the nightlife establishments to kick rooms full of people on the street at 1:55 AM. Cmon Newsom take up the challenge!!

Posted by sf24hr on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 5:24 am

I think this is a great idea. As a former cab driver I can tell you that not much is scarier than seeing all those people leaving the bars and clubs *at the same time*!! Letting establishments sell alcohol at later hours might help spread the bar exits over several hours.

Posted by Carol Taylor on Mar. 05, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

This is one of the worst pieces of journalism that I've ever seen.

It was nice of Mr. Redmond to put a link to the proposition in question. It would've been even nicer if he'd bothered to read it himself.

What's wrong with it? Let me count the ways:

1. The medallions are NOT, "in essence" or any other way, going to be sold on an open market.
A. the medallions will be sold for a fixed price of probably $250,000 to working drivers on a seniority waiting list.
B. At most 300 medallions will be sold. They will be sold by drivers over 70 years of age as a way to get them out of the business and allow younger drivers into it.
C. The fixed price (as opposed to an auction) is going to be set specifically so that working cab drivers can afford it.

2. The seniority waiting list will be maintained and people on it will continue to get their medallion without charge as they have in the past.
A. This means the other 1200 medallions.

3. This is NOT Mayor Newsom's plan. Newsom's plan, as I believe Mr. Redman himself reported, was to take all the medallions and sell them at a open auction.
A. As Mr. Redman may recall the mayor wanted $600 million. This plan gives him $15 million as a compromise.

4. This whole plan is a compromise plan put together by mostly by working cab drivers through a Town Hall process that took over 4 months and included active participation by everybody in the taxi industry. Over 20 different plans for reforming (or not changing) the business were heard and discussed.

5. Aside from maintaining the seniority list and giving senior drivers a way to retire the Consensus Plan also:
A. Set's up a Drivers Fund to benefit the average driver. Drivers have been without benefits for over 32 years.
B. It sets up a council of cab drivers and the public to oversee the plan and change it if necessary. The council will also study ways to improve service to the public.

5. The MTA is NOT hoarding medallions. They've put out 30 medallions since they've taken over.
A. One would think that Mr. Redmond would have called Deputy Director of Taxis Chris Hayashi to ask her about it.
B. But that would have required real journalism. It's much easier to pass on rumors.

6. The situation that people on the list face is the same situation that they face now.

It's really discouraging to take part in process of reform and see one paper after and another completely distort what we've done. It makes me wonder wonder if everything you read in news is false.

Either Big Brother is watching us or only incompetents go into journalism these days.

If you really want to know what's going on with Taxicab Reform, I suggest you read my blog at http://phantomcabdriverphites.blogspot.com/

Ed Healy,
Cab # 572

Posted by Guest Ed Healy on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

I am going to go with your views on this one as you seem to be up on things, har.

"5. Aside from maintaining the seniority list and giving senior drivers a way to retire the Consensus Plan also:"

This is big deal for me, some people seem to love the job, I for one would have a hard time dealing with it, so if there is a way to keep at it for decades and retire I am all for it. I hope that this works out for the drivers.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

So these drivers on the medallion list invested years and years of their working lives to...take on a quarter-million-dollar loan? Hey, that's some financial security to look forward.

This is a Muni bailout on the backs of the drivers pure and simple. The MTA has sold them out--period!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

To the guy outside Trader Joe's: You're paranoid. No cab driver trying to make a buck passes up someone just because they have a shopping bag. Most likely the cab is answering a phoned-in order, or possibly turning in at the end of his shift.

Re Healy's support of the plan: Healy owns at least one medallion, maybe more. He likes the idea of selling out for a huge price like they do in NYC. His pitch is pure spin, full of half-truths and misleading statements.
The basic fact is that this IS Newsom's idea (along with his financier friends). Newsom runs the MTA, and he promised explicitly not to do exactly what he's been campaigning for shortly after his power-grab of the transportation system was approved by the voters, who had no idea what the fine print in the ballot measure said.

I cant understand why everyone seems to be ignoring Newsom's explicit promise that he would not violate the rules of Prop K when he was drumming up support for his MTA proposition. Judge Quentin Kopp told the Bay Guardian that when Newsom and Sup. Aaron Peskin were promoting the charter amendment that
merged the Taxi Commission into the MTA, "each of them assured me that the intent was not to alter the current system of permit issuance and the requirements for maintenance of a permit."

Quotes from the letter that Newsom sent about that time:

"Office of the Mayor
October 3, 2007"

" . . . it is also the goal to respect the will of the voters on Taxi issues. We are not supportive of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K."

"Please keep our desires not to tamper with the intent of Proposition K in mind . . . "

Signed by Gavin Newsom and the President of the Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin.

The Bay Guardian has a pdf copy of this letter, as do many other journalists around town. But nobody mentions it.

Prop K flat out prohibits selling medallions, and yet Newsom was telling the public the city should auction the medallions only a couple months after the MTA took over the Taxi Commission. Does everyone just take it for granted that you cant trust a word that comes out of Newsom's mouth?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

To the guy outside Trader Joe's: You're paranoid. No cab driver trying to make a buck passes up someone just because they have a shopping bag. Most likely the cab is answering a phoned-in order, or possibly turning in at the end of his shift.

Re Healy's support of the plan: Healy owns at least one medallion, maybe more. He likes the idea of selling out for a huge price like they do in NYC. His pitch is pure spin, full of half-truths and misleading statements.
The basic fact is that this IS Newsom's idea (along with his financier friends). Newsom runs the MTA, and he promised explicitly not to do exactly what he's been campaigning for shortly after his power-grab of the transportation system was approved by the voters, who had no idea what the fine print in the ballot measure said.

I cant understand why everyone seems to be ignoring Newsom's explicit promise that he would not violate the rules of Prop K when he was drumming up support for his MTA proposition. Judge Quentin Kopp told the Bay Guardian that when Newsom and Sup. Aaron Peskin were promoting the charter amendment that
merged the Taxi Commission into the MTA, "each of them assured me that the intent was not to alter the current system of permit issuance and the requirements for maintenance of a permit."

Quotes from the letter that Newsom sent about that time:

"Office of the Mayor
October 3, 2007"

" . . . it is also the goal to respect the will of the voters on Taxi issues. We are not supportive of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K."

"Please keep our desires not to tamper with the intent of Proposition K in mind . . . "

Signed by Gavin Newsom and the President of the Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin.

The Bay Guardian has a pdf copy of this letter, as do many other journalists around town. But nobody mentions it.

Prop K flat out prohibits selling medallions, and yet Newsom was telling the public the city should auction the medallions only a couple months after the MTA took over the Taxi Commission. Does everyone just take it for granted that you cant trust a word that comes out of Newsom's mouth?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

To the guy outside Trader Joe's: You're paranoid. No cab driver trying to make a buck passes up someone just because they have a shopping bag. Most likely the cab is answering a phoned-in order, or possibly turning in at the end of his shift.

Re Healy's support of the plan: Healy owns at least one medallion, maybe more. He likes the idea of selling out for a huge price like they do in NYC. His pitch is pure spin, full of half-truths and misleading statements.
The basic fact is that this IS Newsom's idea (along with his financier friends). Newsom runs the MTA, and he promised explicitly not to do exactly what he's been campaigning for shortly after his power-grab of the transportation system was approved by the voters, who had no idea what the fine print in the ballot measure said.

I cant understand why everyone seems to be ignoring Newsom's explicit promise that he would not violate the rules of Prop K when he was drumming up support for his MTA proposition. Judge Quentin Kopp told the Bay Guardian that when Newsom and Sup. Aaron Peskin were promoting the charter amendment that
merged the Taxi Commission into the MTA, "each of them assured me that the intent was not to alter the current system of permit issuance and the requirements for maintenance of a permit."

Quotes from the letter that Newsom sent about that time:

"Office of the Mayor
October 3, 2007"

" . . . it is also the goal to respect the will of the voters on Taxi issues. We are not supportive of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K."

"Please keep our desires not to tamper with the intent of Proposition K in mind . . . "

Signed by Gavin Newsom and the President of the Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin.

The Bay Guardian has a pdf copy of this letter, as do many other journalists around town. But nobody mentions it.

Prop K flat out prohibits selling medallions, and yet Newsom was telling the public the city should auction the medallions only a couple months after the MTA took over the Taxi Commission. Does everyone just take it for granted that you cant trust a word that comes out of Newsom's mouth?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

To the guy outside Trader Joe's: You're paranoid. No cab driver trying to make a buck passes up someone just because they have a shopping bag. Most likely the cab is answering a phoned-in order, or possibly turning in at the end of his shift.

Re Healy's support of the plan: Healy owns at least one medallion, maybe more. He likes the idea of selling out for a huge price like they do in NYC. His pitch is pure spin, full of half-truths and misleading statements.
The basic fact is that this IS Newsom's idea (along with his financier friends). Newsom runs the MTA, and he promised explicitly not to do exactly what he's been campaigning for shortly after his power-grab of the transportation system was approved by the voters, who had no idea what the fine print in the ballot measure said.

I cant understand why everyone seems to be ignoring Newsom's explicit promise that he would not violate the rules of Prop K when he was drumming up support for his MTA proposition. Judge Quentin Kopp told the Bay Guardian that when Newsom and Sup. Aaron Peskin were promoting the charter amendment that
merged the Taxi Commission into the MTA, "each of them assured me that the intent was not to alter the current system of permit issuance and the requirements for maintenance of a permit."

Quotes from the letter that Newsom sent about that time:

"Office of the Mayor
October 3, 2007"

" . . . it is also the goal to respect the will of the voters on Taxi issues. We are not supportive of an effort to merge the Taxi industry unless proper guarantees are made to protect Proposition K."

"Please keep our desires not to tamper with the intent of Proposition K in mind . . . "

Signed by Gavin Newsom and the President of the Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin.

The Bay Guardian has a pdf copy of this letter, as do many other journalists around town. But nobody mentions it.

Prop K flat out prohibits selling medallions, and yet Newsom was telling the public the city should auction the medallions only a couple months after the MTA took over the Taxi Commission. Does everyone just take it for granted that you cant trust a word that comes out of Newsom's mouth?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 27, 2010 @ 4:36 pm