Too often stories about the taxi industry and its struggles against companies like Uber and Lyft tend to only focus on the business side of the equation and don't closely examine the human cost involved. Today we read a great story from the NY Post that explores how drivers are coping after losing financial stability thanks to inequities in regulation and a brutal correction in NYC taxi medallion values. We also get some interesting tidbits on the history of the medallion system in NYC, which provided the key to The American Dream for many hard-working cab drivers (and a lot of wealth to some unscrupulous speculators as well).
Taxi medallions had been such a steady commodity for so many years that for many taxi drivers it seemed like a no-brainer. Many took out house-sized mortgages with the hopes that they could make a good living and when they were ready to retire, they could sell their medallion to the next generation of drivers. But with the growth of Uber and Lyft this dream of retirement has become a nightmare, and some are even losing their homes because they took out loans based on the perceived steady value of these medallions.
The problem appears to at least partially stem from an inequity of regulation and losing market share to the better technology platforms of TNCs. (The story also points out that prices of medallions were probably artificially inflated as well). It is hard to argue with taxi drivers who point out they are getting a raw deal after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, been through strenuous background checks and training programs only to see wages and medallion values plummet. Uber and Lyft don't require medallions, training, commercial insurance or fingerprint background checks of taxis, creating a lot of inequity in the market.
But the taxi industry is far from dead, and actually still have some big advantages like the ability to pay cash and street hail. This is why we have focused on bringing our TaxiOS software platform to taxis to help bridge the technological gap, which will give them an advantage on the road.
We highly suggest you read the full story because it's very well written and we don't want to oversimplify a complex issue.