The City Council on Wednesday passed a bill to create of a task force to study the devaluation of taxicab medallions in New York City.
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, chairman of the council’s transportation committee, sponsored the legislation to establish what will be a nine-member group. The members will be responsible for examining prices of taxicab medallions over the last 20 years and estimating the impact of future sales on the city’s budget. They will also file a report with findings and make recommendations for the city on how to better serve the taxi industry.
“This crisis is affecting not only the big corporations, that own 500 medallions, and used to own 1,000 medallions,” Rodriguez said during a news conference on Wednesday, before the vote. “We are here, most importantly, because there are 6,000 individual medallion owners, who got into debt, who get into loans to buy the yellow taxi medallions.”
During 2013 and 2014, medallions were valued at over $1 million, but now there are some available for as low as $100,000. The fall in prices, a common trend in many American cities, is largely due tThanks
o competition with ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
"We, as a city, say that [medallion owners] will have exclusive rights to pick up and drop off [passengers] in all five boroughs, but that hasn’t been happening in the last few years,” Rodriguez said.
The bill is partially in response to a recent spate of driver suicides at the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission. Its passage came shortly before news broke that Roy Kim, a yellow cabbie, committed suicide last week, according to advocates and city officials. Kim’s death marked the eighth driver suicide in the past year.
“This tragedy underscores the importance of finding new ways for government, the industry and lenders to work in unity to address the financial challenges that are weighing so heavily on our licensees," said TLC chairwoman Meera Joshi in a statement. "Modifying, restructuring and lowering loans would go a long way in providing relief and keeping taxi services available to New Yorkers for years to come. We are heartened by the City Council’s substantive efforts, both past and pending, to help us support our licensees through this terribly difficult time.
"Mr. Kim will be missed by his friends, family, and the New Yorkers he served," Joshi continued."
With Vincent Barone