Uber Lures Away 10% of New York Cabbies, Medallion Prices Drop

Taxi Shortage as Uber Lures Away Yellow Cabbies
by Michael Gartland
New York Post
October 19, 2014

Hailing a cab is now even more of a hassle — and Uber may be to blame.

More than 10 percent of the 50,000 hacks who pilot 13,000 or so yellow cabs around the city have defected to the app-based livery service in the past four months. This not only means fewer taxis cruising the streets, it also caused medallion prices to plunge by an average $150,000, industry insiders told The Post.

Fleet owners are blaming the Taxi and Limousine Commission for the mass migration, accusing it — or one of its employees — of supplying drivers’ contact information to Uber. “They’re leaking it,” said Tony Georgiton, of Queens Medallion, which leases its cars to some 2,000 drivers. “It has to be somebody within the agency, within the TLC.”

He insists the data can’t have come from his company because it closely guards its records.

TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg described the charges of leaked contact information as baseless. He said the agency could not confirm whether there are fewer yellow-cab drivers.

Georgiton’s allegations come just days after The Post first reported on Wednesday that the Department of Investigation has opened a conflict-of-interest probe into Ashwini Chhabra, who left his $160,000-a-year job at the TLC for a cushy position at Uber.

Dimitris Tsikos, who’s owned his medallion for about two years, also accused the TLC of leaking his drivers’ contact info to Uber.

“I didn’t give [my contacts] to anyone,’’ he said. “It had to come from the TLC.”

Meanwhile, the price of medallions has dipped from $1.05 million four months ago to about $850,000 on average, said Mitchell Reiver, of the Melrose Credit Union, which specializes in financing their purchase. His estimate contradicts prices listed on the TLC website, which shows a less drastic dip to about $915,000.

“The TLC website has reported prices that do not accurately reflect the market,” Reiver said.

“I’m certain of that, but I don’t know what the reason is for it.”

The credit union, which has made more than $1 billion in loans for the purchase of medallions, is currently negotiating a medallion sale for $825,000, he said.

He added that the current “softening” of the market is the worst dip since medallion prices tanked after 9/11.

The discrepancy between his estimate and the TLC numbers could be a result of sales data that hasn’t been recorded immediately, said Fromberg.

Ethan Gerber, of the Greater NY Taxi Association, said that since last summer, all 18 fleets he represents have lost between 10 and 15 percent of their drivers.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Harshbarger

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