PPA Sells 3 Taxi Medallions — At a Discount

They're the first to sell since auctions opened last fall — no thanks to Uber.

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Good news, Philly! You’re getting more taxis!

Not-so-good news, Philly! You’re only getting three of them.

KYW reports that — months after they first went up for auction — the Philadelphia Parking Authority has sold three taxicab medallions, which are needed to operate cabs in the city. When they first went up for auction in the fall, the PPA had authority to sell 45 of the medallions, part of an effort to expand the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs in the city.

Instead, just the three have been sold — to Freedom Taxi, the only company that runs accessible cabs in the city — and then at a discount rate: The medallions were sold at $80,000 apiece, down precipitously from the original $475,000 asking price.

What happened? Competition, apparently. As we noted in March: “Competition from services like Uber — which don’t pay medallion costs to enter the market — has made potential taxi owners much less interested in paying exorbitant fees to start or expand their fleets. So has the expense of meeting new requirements to make taxis accessible to persons with disabilities.”

Will Uber continue its encroachment on the taxi business? It’s certainly got momentum. For an inside look at how the company does business, you should check out City Paper‘s big story by Emily Guendelsberger, who went undercover as an Uber driver. Long story, but worth the read.