SAN FRANCISCO–Efforts to help stabilize the value of taxi medallions–perhaps spurred in part by a lawsuit filed by a credit union–are showing some success here, one report suggests.
While issues around taxi medallion values have mostly centered on New York, as CUToday.info most recently reported here, plunging values of the collateral underlying many credit union loans has also been a significant problem in cities such as Chicago and San Francisco.
Now, a new report has found that moves by San Francisco regulators to give some struggling taxi drivers priority at San Francisco International Airport has boosted their revenue and rides, although it hasn’t increased the supply of cabs on city streets as had been hoped.
Under the plan, taxi drivers who paid $250,000 for their medallions got to jump ahead in the line to pick up airport passengers, a lucrative pickup spot.
Complementary efforts to entice more taxi drivers to pick up riders who use wheelchairs are also showing promise, the according to the report, stated the San Francisco Examiner.
“We’re seeing really positive trends,” Kate Toran, director of taxi and accessible services at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which has been leading the effort, told the Examiner.
But, the Examiner added, the report also shows the city failed in its effort to encourage some taxi drivers – who hold older permits that were given away for free in the last half-century — to drive more within San Francisco itself.
The initial plan proposed in October last year would have barred nearly two-thirds of taxi drivers from picking up at SFO, according to the Examiner.
“Many critics in the industry saw the proposal as an effort to address a lawsuit from the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which is seeking damages from SFMTA for ‘allowing’ the rise of Uber and Lyft to tank the local taxi industry, which in turn led many taxi drivers who took out loans to lease medallions to default.”
As CUToday.info reported here, SFFCU is seeking $28-million in damages it alleges have been caused by ride sharing services on the value of taxi medallions. SFFCU partnered with the city on a program that made more than 600 taxi medallion loans.
It was those 560 paid medallion holders who were expected to benefit from the taxi plan, which was scaled back by December to simply give them priority, the Examiner said.
According to the report, revenue for purchased medallion holders rose in February, March and April this year, compared to the same time last year, by roughly 41%, according to SFMTA. Those same drivers saw pickups jump by more than 136%. In February 2018 purchased medallion holders picked up 21,000 passengers from San Francisco International Airport, but in February this year they picked up 56,000. There’s a similar rise in March and April.
Not Everyone Happy
But not everyone supports the city’s program. Cris Sweis, owner of Yellow Cab and Luxor Cab in San Francisco, told the Examiner that instead of helping taxi drivers due to pressure from the credit union lawsuit, SFMTA should help level the playing field between taxis and ride-hails, which have far fewer regulations to contend with. That’s proven difficult, however, as Uber and Lyft are regulated by the state, whereas taxis are regulated by cities in California, the Examiner noted.