The ups and downs of NYC’s taxi medallion

The value of a NYC taxi medallion increased for the first time since 2014.

Singdhi Sokpo

For better or worse, pretty much anyone can drive for Uber.

But to legally operate a yellow cab in NYC, a driver must own one of the city’s ~13.5k taxi medallions, making it a much more exclusive club.

Taxi medallions…

… are regulated by NYC to manage cab supply, establish rates, and monitor routes.

  • Medallion owners can make ~$80k per year driving or leasing their cab, which traditionally made medallions a sound investment.
  • But when Uber launched and flooded the supply of rides in NYC, it tanked medallion values.

Many drivers who took on debt to purchase their medallion have been unable to pay it back, subsequently causing a mental health crisis among NYC taxi drivers.

But there’s good news

This month, NYC is kicking off a relief program to cap medallion debt. In May, the value of a taxi medallion in NYC also increased for the first time since 2014.

So while Uber’s not going anywhere, things are looking up, ever so slightly, for NYC cabbies.

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