There were several motivating factors for the vote.
- According to Mike Harris of Taxi Services, the SFMTA will have exhausted the list of eligible sellers by mid November.
- Many of the original potential sellers had declined to sell because they either wanted to use their medallions for a longer length of time or they thought the price would increase. Many of them have since changed their minds and want to sell but are no longer eligible to do so. It's no accident that Carl Macmurdo of the MHA was one of the people pushing for the vote.
- Most medallion holders and owners want the sales portion of the Pilot Program to continue.
There was some opposition.
- SFCDA President and TAC member Barry Korengold wanted the age to be lowered to only 65 because he thought that lowering it to 60 would reduce the number of medallions available for drivers on the waiting list.
- Councilor Rua Graffis of the UTW said that she wouldn't vote for any legislation helping company owners and medallion holders until ordinary drivers had been given retirement and medical benefits.
Personally, although I don't have a vote, I decided to support the age 60 limit (I'm 66 myself) because of a huge change in demographics over the last few years.
When we were putting the Pilot Plan together, 60 was the original age projected for a seller. It was changed after Taxi Services did a count and found that there were around 600 medallion holders over the age of 60. The people at the Town Hall Meetings reduced the age to 70 primarily because they didn't want to put too many taxis up for sale all at once.
The new figures show that there are now only 168 medallion holders over the age of 60. Selling about 150 medallions a year would be about all the system could handle anyway. Besides, there are only 39 holders between ages 65 and 69 so it didn't seem worth haggling over. Korengold claimed that it would make all taxis transferable in about five years but my arithmetic makes that closer to ten - providing, of course, that no other medallions are made available for the list, which is unlikely.
The reason for the 30 and 15-day time limits is that numerous original would-be sellers backed out on the sales at the last moment - in one case after a buyer had purchased a car. This made things very difficult for both potential buyers and Taxi Services.
It's unclear to me, however, whether or not these time limits set up a situation where, if a medallion holder turns down a chance to sell, he or she would never get a chance again???
A New Idea for Drivers on the Waiting List
Richard Moles (photo), who has been driving cab for 26 years but only put his name on the Waiting List 13 years ago, has also put his name on the Buyer's List. He says that he has enough money to buy a medallion but would want his purchase to be made similar to the way ramp taxis are handled now.
What he wants is to be able to buy the medallion but keep his name on the waiting list so that, if an "earned" medallion becomes available, he would be able to sell the one he bought and be given the medallion that he waited and worked so many years to get.
The idea has been received with enthusiasm by many drivers.
On the Agenda
For reasons I don't fully understand the next TAC meeting won't be held until Monday, October 24th, 2011. There are two points of special interest on the agenda.
1. People who have an idea for reforming or modifying the Pilot Program will have a chance to explain their thoughts at the meeting. Chair Chris Sweis wants to receive a written copy of the plan in question by Wednesday, Oct. 19th, 2011. His e-mail address is "Chris Sweis" <email@example.com> The papers should follow the format below:
a. Summary of the proposed industry business model
b. Negative and positive impacts on:
ii. Permit holders
iii. Cab companies
v. Overall service to the public
c. Transition plan from how we currently operate to the intended model
2. Should the TAC recommend that Taxi Services become a Division within the SFMTA instead of the subdivision that it is now?
This subject was put forth by councilor Bill Minikel (photo) and agreed with by the vast majority of the TAC members. Show up on October 24th to give your input and find out what the recommendation will be.