gasp! I need some air, and was searching for it at - of all places- on google, semi-geek that I am, when I came across this website. Not quite what I was looking for, but refreshing nevertheless.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

NYC Taxi Trivia

Recently, I came across a little factoid in Time Magazine that said that the winning bid for a taxi medallion in NYC was currently $300,000. That got me wondering what is it, and what it means, and what's normal. So here's what I discovered, through the web and through cab talk with a Punjabi cabbie I met yesterday:

  • Homepage of the Taxi and Limousine Corporation
  • List of (tentative) current winning bidders, showing the top bids to be $360,000 (!!) at the time of this post, while the last winning bid is $332,000+. This is a one-time purchase cost of the medallion.
  • In comparison, the winning bids for alternative fuel medallions are around $220,000, and corporate medallions (black cars?) are in the range of $775,000 - $815,000.
  • Medallions are required to drive cabs. Each cab has one medallion
  • Medallions are usually held - by the thousands - by a few rich investors. My cabbie said a lot of them were Jewish, but I have not confirmed that information. The investors don't drive cabs. The cab drivers may be investing, but that's beyond the scope of this article.
  • People take upto 30 year mortgages on the medallion. It's like a house. At $350,000+, no wonder.
  • If you want to drive a cab, you need a cab, and a medallion. I'm not sure how to get the cab - at $25,000 for a Crown Victoria and $350,000 for a medallion, I hope the cab comes free with the medallion. Anyway, you can rent - weekly rent for medallions (with cab?) are about $600, and daily rates are about $135. That's per shift. Each shift is 12 hours, typically 5 to 5. Which is why I can't find any cabs around 4-6 in the evening, as everyone is changing shifts.
  • An average day for a cabbie can earn anywhere from $200 to $500. Depends on luck. My driver had a stroke of good luck- in the first 2 hours of his shift, he did 2 runs to Newark airport, $160 + tips down the hatch.
  • The business is picking up after a slump after 9/11, and my cabbie said there's no way he's going back to the 9-to-5. Advantages include working whenever he wants to, earning more when he works harder, and the complete independent style - to quote, "If I want to go home, all I need to do is put my off duty light on, and go - no one can stop me". I like that style. It's got an attitude. Also, the money is much better than a software desk job.
  • Here's another interesting website on the topic, the NYCabbie.