by Kevin Walsh

During my increasingly lengthy “between full time job” stints, I always flagellate myself into regretting I never learned to drive. Car services always have the need for drivers. I’m told acquiring a taxi medallion is nearly impossible because they are astronomical in price (why, then, aren’t cab drivers all rich?)

While meandering aimlessly in the Queens Plaza area, I shot one of a pair of signs on a building where 31st Street separates from Northern Boulevard. In this part of town, ST stands for the STillwell exchange.



Brian Puccio September 25, 2014 - 11:02 am

“why, then, aren’t cab drivers all rich?”

In a word? Rent-seeking.

I believe the vast majority of car drivers do not own medallions. Rather, they rent a cab with medallion from the rich person who owns it, paying up front for the privilege. They need to make up the money they laid out, plus have it cleaned when they bring it back. (I remember reading an article that I can’t find now that followed a cab driver for a day and at the end, he brought the car to a car wash many cab drivers go to and waited in line making small talk with a bunch of other drivers before they all turned in their cars.)

Kevin September 25, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Years ago I dealt with many people who owned medallions. The owner would set up a corporation to own the medallion, borrow heavily to purchase it, and then lease it to an operating company. The operating company would then obtain the cabs and rent them to the drivers for their shift.

The lease payments from the medallions usually just about covered the payments that the corporation made to cover their loans and corporate taxes. The guy who set up the corp usually rented his cab from the operating company that the medallion was leased to.

Most of the guys who did this purchased the medallions as investments. When it came time for the kids to go to college, they would sell the medallion and the capital gain from the sale was what paid for the college.

Nicole March 13, 2017 - 12:51 am

Hi, kind of off topic but I was just curious if you went to St. Josephs catholic church in Babylon, NY when you were a teenager? You look really familiar. Thanks!!!

Nirmal Singh September 25, 2014 - 8:17 pm

Yea I believe Brian has a good point. I have a few taxi driver buddies, both with the green cars and without. I believe the yellow and green cars require medallions, and as Brian stated are most likely rented. However, I believe the other colours – the blacks, tabs, blues, whites, reds, etc. in the Lincoln and other canoe style car service cats don’t have medallions. A medallion is required in manhattan and to be hail able. I know my buddies are always broke. They live in shared places, and they have to pay for repairs on their cats which are usually rented. A few I knew did I think but their car used.

PegLegGuy September 26, 2014 - 9:24 pm

It used to be called horse-hiring.

chris September 30, 2014 - 6:48 pm

So the big badge that you see bolted to the hood of some cabs is the actual “medallion”,right?
Meaning that that cab is privately owned?


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.