With Uber bringing pressure to the taxi industry, lawmaker considers medallion bailout

The drop in yellow taxi medallion prices since Uber crashed the transportation scene is leading a city lawmaker to propose a bailout for owners.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the transportation committee chair, proposed paying off owners and drivers for the lost value, which dropped 23% to $805,000 from $1 million this year, according to his office.

“We should find a form of restitution to those who have invested in our city’s future through the purchase of medallions,” Rodriguez said, calling the drop in prices an “asset crisis.”

Rodriguez, a critic of Uber who has backed bills to cap surge pricing and its recruitment of drivers, said he would set up a commission to find out whether Uber and other new app-based car service providers are “not following the same rules or regulations” as other companies — a common criticism from Uber’s rivals in the traditional cab industry. Taxi and Limousine Commission officials have said Uber’s operations here are within regulations.

Rodriguez on Thursday spoke to the flamboyant taxi medallion king Gene Friedman and other industry bigs at the New York Athletic Club President’s Room.

“Mr. Friedman is urging regulators to protect an asset which they sold and own, and is pleased at the continued support of City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez,” said Friedman’s spokesman Ronn Torossian.

While Friedman pushes the city for help with falling medallion values, he is being sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for allegedly reneging on a settlement to pay $746,406 in restitution to drivers leasing cabs and medallions. Torossian said Friedman has been transparent in his negotiations with Schneiderman’s office and “honors his agreements” with him.

Uber spokesman Matt Wing ripped into Friedman and his push for a bailout.

“Medallion millionaire Gene Friedman is acting like the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ — and now he wants to stick New Yorkers with the bill,” Wing said in a statemnet.