Friday, November 27, 2009

Town Hall Meetings: The SFCDA's Criteria for Compromise

Barry Korengold of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association presented plans for both a compromise solution to taxi reform and a driver's investment fund at the November 23rd Town Hall Meeting.

Called a "Criteria for a Compromise solution," the SFCDA plan would:
  • Maintain the principles of one driver per medallion and a minimum driving requirement of 800 hours per year.
  • Continue to issue most medallions at no cost to those on the waiting list.
  • Consider transferring a small number of medallions at a fixed rate with adjustments for inflation.
  • Give drivers on The List the right to purchase (or decline to purchase) the transferred medallions on a first come first serve basis.
  • Provide Low interest loans for the drivers as well as help in making a down payment on the loan.
  • Insure that the fixed price be calculated in such a way that a new medallion holder would be able to increase his or her monthly income after making payments on the loan without working more than 40 hours per week.
  • Guarantee that a percentage of any transfer fee would go to a driver's fund.
The SFCDA plan would also allow drivers to retire although it's unclear from reading the text exactly what form this would take. There appear to be two possibilities:
  1. Medallion holders who are 65, have held an A-Card for 20 years or have completed the driving requirement for 10 years would no longer have a driving requirement. This would put them in the same situation that Pre-K medallion holders have now.
  2. Medallion holder could retire by paying a flat monthly fee of no more than $500 a month. Part of the fee would be contributed to a driver's fund.
The SFCDA would appear to prefer the first possibility but would consider the second as part of a compromise with the SFMTA.

The "Drivers Investment Fund" would be created for the benefit of all drivers, not just medallion holders. It would be more like a stock or a bond than a pension plan and would help drivers to invest in their futures.

The details of the plan haven't been worked out but it would work "something like this."
  • Each driver would contribute $5 per shift.
  • This could come from a 25 cent drop increase on the meter.
  • A percentage from the transfer of medallions could also be contributed to the fund.
  • Retiring medallion holders might also contribute to the fund.
  • A driver could cash out only after completing 5 years of the driving requirement within a 6 year period.
  • Every driver would have an account and could cash out any time after completing their requirement.
  • Once cashed out, a driver couldn't cash out again for another 5 years.
Korengold provided an estimate of how much retiring medallion holders might contribute to the fund if they paid $100 a month or $1,200 year per person into it. "Here’s an example of what retired medallion holders at this rate, would add to the fund:"
  • 200 Retired MH = $1.2 million per year.
  • 300 Retired MH = $1.8 million per year.
  • 400 Retired MH = $2.4 million per year.
The main thrust of both the SFCDA plans would be to help provide security for medallion holders and regular drivers alike.

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