Monday, April 4, 2011


The Taxi Advisory Council is still collecting data and reviewing some effects of the Pilot Program so far.   Because of delays in the implementation of the program and the many issues presented to the council, we have not yet discussed long term medallion reform.  I feel much further thought and discussion is necessary before making a final recommendation to the SFMTA  Board.

There are many who would like to see all medallions eventually transferable.  I would like to point out that if all medallions become transferable, there will no longer be the advantage of jumping the line by purchasing.  Everyone will have to wait again, only now when their name comes up, they'll have to split their medallion income with the bank.  This will exclude many older veteran drivers from owning a medallion.  We therefore feel a significant cap on the number of transferable medallions is essential.

Barry Korengold
President, SFCDA
Vice Chair, Taxi Advisory Council

Medallion Reform Proposal by the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association

We believe that as in most occupations, career cab drivers deserve a dignified end to their career. This plan will benefit a broad spectrum of interests. It will benefit the city by putting money into the SFMTA, it will benefit all cab drivers by contributing money to the driver's fund, maintaining gas and gate shifts, as well as continuing San Francisco’s long honored system of earning a medallion through time spent on the road, rather than by having to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt. This plan will keep medallions going to veteran drivers at the top of the list and allows for elder and disabled medallion holders to reduce or eliminate their driving requirement or to sell their medallion. It benefits the public by maintaining quality, career cabdrivers in the industry.

We feel that although purchasing a medallion might be a good choice for some younger drivers early in their careers, many other drivers have already invested 20 years or more of their lives servicing the public for low pay, long hours, with no benefits, doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Therefore, there needs to be a way for drivers who have made a career of driving a cab to be able to obtain a medallion.

In order for medallions to continue going to veteran drivers, as has been the respected practice in San Francisco for the last 32 years, there needs to be a cap on the number of transferable medallions. We suggest a third. Because of the slow movement of the list, we feel two thirds of the medallions should continue to go to the top of the list without purchase. When new medallions are issued, one third of that number would become transferable. In other words, if 30 medallions are issued, 10 more medallions could become transferable.

The City should sell no more medallions outright, as each one deprives a career working cab driver from obtaining their medallion, which can be compared in other industries with tenure or a management position after usually at least 20 years on the road.

We propose that when a medallion holder reaches the age of 55, the driving requirement could be voluntarily reduced to 600 hours and the holder would contribute $100 a month or $1,200 a year to be split between the SFMTA and the Drivers Fund.

When a medallion holder reaches the age of 60, the driving requirement could voluntarily be reduced to 400 hours and a contribution of $200 a month ($2,400 a year) would be split between the SFMTA and the Drivers Fund.

When a medallion holder reaches 65 or becomes disabled, the driving requirement could voluntarily be eliminated with a $400 monthly contribution ($4,800 a year) to the SFMTA and the Drivers Fund. The medallion holder would still retain the medallion and still be able to drive.

To allow for inflation and market changes, these payments could also be set at a comparable percentage to medallion income instead of a dollar figure.

All reduced or eliminated driving requirement medallions would be run as a gate and gas cabs. This would create stability for companies as well as maintain available shifts for drivers.

A medallion holder would have the option to sell when they reach 65. If they chose to hold on to their medallion with a reduced or eliminated driving requirement, they would retain their medallion the rest of their lives, but would no longer have the option to sell. When these medallion holders die, their medallions would go back to the list. A medallion holder over 65 who continues driving, could make their decision at the time they wish to stop driving.

Since there would be a cap on transferable medallions, eventually there could be a waiting list to sell. A qualified medallion holder waiting to sell would not have to pay to eliminate their driving requirement until able to so, at which time they would make their decision.

We’d like to make this comparison of revenue from the current transfer fee of $50,000 per medallion to the revenue from this Limited Driving Requirement plan. With the amount of debt undertaken when buying a medallion, the purchaser will likely hold onto their new medallion for more than 10 years, probably closer to 20 or 30 years. After 10 years of participation in our recommended program, a 75 year old driver will have contributed $48,000 to the SFMTA and the Drivers Fund. If the same driver took advantage of the plan starting at the age of 55 he will have paid in $66,000, and still be contributing to the fund and the SFMTA.

We feel this plan is healthier for the industry overall. It will allow senior and disabled medallion holders to stop driving and allows older career drivers to still obtain a medallion. This will also help color schemes maintain gas and gate medallions, and provide more available shifts for non-medallion holding drivers.


  1. If there were to be a cap on the number of transferable medallions, why not divide up the waiting list into two lists... one for those wishing to remain on the traditional list and obtain medallions through time served in the industry, and another for those wishing to wait and purchase a medallion?

  2. Generally this is a good plan, and is within a T of being usable. However it is heavily compromised, against the interest of the elderly, and contains one curious line that makes little sense from any point of view, as I will explain:
    Speaking from the point of view of humane treatment of workers, any continuance of selling medallions is very bad, and the suggestion here of selling a third of medallions issued is an unacceptable political capitulation on the part of the SFCDA. The practice of selling medallions is about as wise as selling your books to pay your rent, and it MUST stop for fairness to be possible.
    Speaking from either the point of view of the drivers or the Evil Ones on the MTA Board, it is not in anyone's interest on either side of the political fence to disallow a driver from selling his medallion after age 70 if he makes the decision to continue driving for a while longer, as indicated by "they [drivers over 70 who opt not to sell right way] would retain their medallion the rest of their life, but would no longer have the option to sell." The drivers, especially the elderly, should be left this option, and the City would desire the potential sale, assuming the very evil program of selling medallions continues. As the line item stands it is a very bad capitulation to the City which will cause more pressure on the elderly to sell than they should have to deal with.
    Since the drivers over 70 who are most likely to be affected by this plan are the ones who shall have suffered the most under the previous mismanagement of the taxi industry [as opposed to the present mismanagement of the industry], it is likely they will most need to have options.
    I strongly suggest that drivers over 70 be left will all possible options, and that in the unlikely event the City and the MTA become humane at a later time, and drivers approaching 70 are less likely to be impoverished, then and ONLY THEN might it be fair for stricter exit plans to be considered.

  3. I have been driving for 20 yrs and am not on the list--in two years I wi be 70-- will the drivers fund be available to me in some sort of a retirement program?
    If not what is it for?
    Ben =em zanchi

  4. If you read the plan again, you'll see that a medallion holder 70 or older doesn't have to make the decision to sell or not til they decide to stop driving full-time. At that point, if they decide not to sell, they can't change their mind again, or no medallions would ever go back to the list.

    As for the Drivers Fund, it hasn't been decided yet how that will be used. It's doubtful however, there'll be enough for a retirement program.

  5. I'd like to see a buck on the meter dedicated to a pension fund for disabled and too-old-to-drive drivers with 20 years seniority. It's an outrage to see these guys dwindle away, neglected.

    Jim N.