The value of taxi medallions has steadily inched upward in the past year for the first time in nearly a decade, New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) announced in June. The average medallion value climbed from $92,565 at the end of the second quarter last year to $140,663 through May 2022 – representing roughly a 52% increase.
That average value is still 87% below the medallion’s $1 million peak in 2014, but the uptick is a glimmer of hope for the industry.
In May 2021, medallions sold for an average of $79,105, with multiple individual sale prices sinking to an all-time low of $25,000 in August, according to TLC data. Most of the 65 medallions sold in May went for between $100,000 and $185,000. Less than half of those sales were foreclosures, another positive sign.
Matthew W. Daus Esq., chair of the transportation practice group at Windels Marx and president of the International Association of Transportation Regulators, recently told Crain’s New York Business that several factors have created a “perfect storm, in a positive way” for a small but steady rise in medallion prices. Perhaps most significant is the possibility of a fare increase – something the TLC is considering for the first time in 10 years. The NY Taxi Workers Alliance is pushing for an increase of between $1.50 and $2 to ensure drivers can earn $25/hour.
Another factor likely boosting confidence is the Medallion Loan Relief Program, which was unveiled last year. It allows owners to restructure debt with a $20,000 loan and provides support through a $65 million fund from the federal government. A secondary relief effort, the Medallion Loan Guarantee Program, was announced in November. It seeks to reduce owner debt to no more than a $170,000 loan, along with a city grant of $30,000. The restructuring caps debt payments at $1,122, and if a medallion owner defaults, the city picks up the remaining tab.
Of the roughly 3,000 medallion owners who qualify for the programs, only about 300 drivers have participated. The TLC’s new commissioner, David Do said during his May confirmation hearing that helping more drivers access debt relief is a top priority for his administration.
Transit insiders also say they’re optimistic that Uber’s partnership with Arro and Curb, to list taxis on its platform, could be boosting confidence.
Source: Crain’s New York Business