Five years ago a licensed taxi medallion to operate a cab in New York City sold for $1.3 million. Later this month 139 of the medallions will be auctioned, likely for a fraction of the price their owners paid for them.
At a similar auction last year, 46 medallions were reportedly sold for an average price of $186,000. This month’s sale will include a minimum of 20 medallions.
The decline in value is attributed to the popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The ride-hailing services made more trips in February 2017 than yellow and green cabs combined, according to Taxi & Limousine Commission data reviewed by Todd Schneider. And not just a little more–65% more, a larger monthly total than taxis have posted in any month since 2009, when the data were first collected.
Ride-sharing trips overtook taxi trips in the outer boroughs of New York City in early 2016 and today account for 10 times more trips than taxis. Schneider also believes “there’s a very good chance” that ride-hailers have already surpassed taxis in Manhattan and that may also be true of trips to LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports.
According to the New York Post, city taxi medallions are selling today for between $160,000 and $250,000. The number of authorized medallions totals just 13,587 and the number of for-hire vehicles in New York totals about 130,000 today.
That has cut a taxi driver’s average annual earnings from around $45,000 to as little as $29,000. Estimated annual earnings for the roughly 60,000 Uber drivers in New York fall between $30,000 and $40,000. The Post notes that many for-hire drivers earn less than an hourly worker at McDonald’s.