While some New Yorkers have been cutting back on taxi fares during the recession, a new study shows the value of taxi medallion is stronger than ever. The value of an average medallion continues to climb in tougher times, with a medallion now being worth $760,000 a nearly 180% increase from where it was at less than a decade ago—outperforming every asset other than gold.
The city's taxis have actually seen a boost because of companies who have cut back on hiring town cars and instead are having their employees simply save receipts from yellow cab rides instead. There's also been a spike in business since cabs were required to take credit card (but don't tell that to angry drivers who don't like the swipe). When asked about the report, TLC chariman Matthew Daus sounded like he had a cocky swagger as he told Crain's, "Strong medallion values are just a natural dividend of a healthy industry.”
The strong medallion values also come from the limited number of medallions out there—capped under 14,000 for most of the last century. The report says that the economy has even further fueled the demand to try to lease a medallion with more unemployed workers turning to driving taxis. The last time medallions went up for auction—with the addition of wheelchair-accessible taxis in 2006—one buyer was able to scoop all 54 of them up for under five hundred grand. The good news of all this for officials in Albany is that they should be able to get in on this bounty shortly with the fifty cent taxi surcharge that helped balance the state budget going into effect by the end of the year.