The permits needed to operate taxis will cost more to purchase and will generate extra income for The City under a new plan by San Francisco’s transportation agency.
Holders of taxi medallions can operate cabs or lease out their vehicles to other drivers while still collecting a slice of the profits. Until 2010, the only way to obtain a medallion was to keep your name on a waiting list, but the permit could take decades to arrive.
For the past two years, cabdrivers have been able to skip ahead of a waiting list and purchase a taxi medallion for $250,000 as part of a pilot program. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs, also took a 15 percent transfer fee for medallion sales.
Now, the SFMTA wants to increase the cost of medallion sales to $300,000 and collect a 50 percent transfer fee. The minimum age for selling medallions would also be reduced, from 65 to 60. The proposal is projected to generate $14 million for the agency over the next two years.
The proposal has drawn criticism from industry officials, who claim that the SFMTA is using taxi services as a cash cow to prop up its other operations, namely Muni.
“I think this is pure greed on their part,” said Mark Gruberg, spokesman for United Taxicab Workers, a drivers organization. “They’re lowering the amount that medallion holders can get and increasing the amount that drivers will have to pay. No one wins but the SFMTA.”
Athan Rebelos, general manager at DeSoto Cab, said the $300,000 charge for buying a medallion was “absolutely absurd.”
“These aren’t independently wealthy people,” said Rebelos. “If they take out a loan for that cost, they’ll end up paying it back for up to 30 years.”
Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA, pointed out that before the pilot program, there was no way for any medallion holders to receive money for selling their wares — now there is a 50-50 split. The revenue generated from the medallion sales will help the agency increase enforcement on illegal taxis, as well as improve The City’s overall transportation network, said Rose.
“The medallions are a public asset,” said Rose. “They should be managed in a way that benefits the public.”