Lyft, Uber Et Al Impact US Medallion Market

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber are making an impact on the United States livery market, particularly in cities where medallions are sold.

The New York Times reports the price of medallions in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia are falling as more people opt to use TNCs to get around, leading drivers to wonder why they should bother purchasing or leasing a medallion at all. In New York, the price for one of the 13,437 medallions available fell 17 percent between the spring of 2013 and October of this year, landing at $872,000. Philadelphia, meanwhile, can’t sell a single medallion for its asking price of $475,000, and aims to try again at $350,000.

Nailing down how things are proves to be difficult, due to the low number of sales/leases, or posting inaccurate numbers by omitting most sales. For New York, it’s the latter; they omit sales that go for $10,000-plus below the previous month’s average. Over in Chicago, weekly lease rates for medallion taxis are falling alongside the number of medallion sales in the Windy City, while others jump-ship to Uber or Lyft.

Drivers in New York also face a challenge from the new green “boro taxis” that serve fares in northern Manhattan and the boroughs surrounding Manhattan, with medallion owners having gone as far as the courtroom to rein in the green taxis, only for the ruling to fall in favor of the defendant.

Photo by Danielle Lupkin from NYC, United States ([1]) [ CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Dec 04, 2014

    Sounds like good news to me. Let the market decide the right amount of taxis. Have central planners ever done a good job making these sorts of decision? Whenever you get government bureaucrats involved in this sort of planning, it ends up being who pays the politicians the most. All the controversy regarding Uber and Lyft was never about public safety, it was about a Cartel protecting their monopoly.

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    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Dec 04, 2014

      @ihatetrees Yup, that's who my brother is with, AirBnB. He's never had a bad client. All pre-screened. Never any damage. Had many repeat clients. Some even from Canada (sno-birds). They leave their RVs parked in the street and driveway and use the house for a week (or more). Walk everywhere they go in a group. $4K a seven-day week is cheap! Fully furnished 3 br, 2bth, spa&Jacuzzi, w/gar, all utilities, firewood for fireplace (in winter), easy access to everything imaginable, golf courses, gyms, Del Taco, Wal-Mart, you name it, it's within strolling distance. Last guests were some golf team from USC - from the looks of the place afterward, they slept everywhere; in sleeping bags on the floor in the LR, Den, Dining room - must have been at least eight of them, probably more. Left one ratty old holy sleeping bag behind in the trash. Furniture neatly was stacked against the walls to make room for sleeping bags. Cleaning ladies made a killing on aluminum beer and soda cans left in plastic trash bags.

  • BR1950 BR1950 on Dec 04, 2014

    The face of Uber is the face of criminal oligarchy. It’s that simple. This private corporation has 24 BILLION and yet it refuses to pay same dues and taxes that small transportation businesses are forced to pay. How is that fair ? I have long stopped using this tax-evading privatization shark (read: uber). I witnessed privatization results in Latin America – it wasn’t pretty. And like with Uber, all privatizes tried to lie and deceive you into believing that they are the next “big thing” and are “better than a sliced bread”. All lies…. All they care about are their own fat pockets. I now read people complaining almost daily on the Internet about being charged hundreds of dollars by Uber for short distance rides. Sad that we have corporations such as Uber in existence today. I am not against technology. But technology must be ethical, must be fair, must be lawful. Uber is none of those. Just another privatization shark feeding off general public.

  • Beachbunny Beachbunny on Dec 05, 2014

    If taxis weren't so damn expensive and difficult to procure when you needed one, services like Uber wouldn't have any business. But it's not that way, which is why Uber exists and is enjoying the hype. Try catching a cab in NYC at 7pm on a rainy Thursday night. Good luck.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Dec 05, 2014

    All you guys with your financial terms are, as usual, letting the vocabulary and a bunch of MBA nonsense get in the way of the reality. A whole lot would have to change for there to be a real hybrid system where you could buy direct while your neighbor buys from a dealer and pays more. You might as well wait for all the O2 in your room to group in one corner. It could happen, but making it happen and keeping it that way? Don't hold your breath. I will defend this by letting you point out a similar system that is stable and then by pointing out the fatal flaw in your example - ad nauseum. So, you could have factory owned stores by buying back the dealerships. This has been done in Europe. I know a likely billionaire result of this who now manufactures planes. You know what he did? He hired dealers for the planes everywhere he could. Would your dealership experience change at factory stores? Well, not really. Maybe it would be a little more professional, but most all the same people would be there doing all the same jobs and costing the same. Likely, if you are a savvy buyer, your price would go up rather than down. Knowledge would not be empowering. Think Apple Store with no Amazon for better prices, but with dealership people rather than naive youth. People often fall into traps of thinking you can eliminate a problem through a rules change without really seeing how it's really gonna turn out. No, dealers should not be mandated by law. No, you won't get the advantages out of that you think you will unless you think that some marginal improvements will happen over time as different players try different things. Yes, you can sit in your pajamas and dream, but that won't change anything. Lastly, if any of the big three really wanted to get rid of dealers, Michigan would repeal the mandate next session. This has been true since there was a big three.

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    • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Dec 06, 2014

      @ect Of course the corporate shop is higher. If they were not. No one would buy a dealership. That's not what the anti dealer crowd thinks will happen. They want to bypass the dealers and get a direct, low price because they don't need the dealer. I really don't think most US dealers would play along with a hybrid environment because most the manufacturers play games and there is not a lot of trust. In aviation, you might get a slightly more professional treatment with less chance of being jerked around by the manufacturer but buying direct doesn't cost less. To the contrary. The negotiations are actually tougher buying direct. Having a sort of flagship store is also different from taking all the dealerships. As soon as you do that, your sales force is likely to start the same games the dealers do now.