Uber’s devastating effect on the New York cab industry is plain to see in this chart, produced by Goldman Sachs, showing the change in the price of New York City taxi medallions since 2004.
New York’s yellow taxicabs are the only vehicles in the city allowed to pick up passengers who hail them from the street. The medallion system, in place since 1937, sets an upper limit on the number of those cabs. As demand grew, medallions became more and more valuable.
This chart shows how medallion prices rose from about $250,000 in January 2004 to a peak of just over $1 million for an individual medallion — and about $1.3 million for a corporate one — in March 2013.
But starting in 2010, Uber’s drivers — who aren’t allowed to accept street hails — started filling this government-created vacuum. As Uber added more and more drivers, medallion priced stagnated, then started to fall precipitously. The more people hail cars through Uber, the less money cab drivers make, and the worse taxi medallions look as an investment.
One of the city’s largest taxi companies, White & Blue Group, saw its monthly medallion-leasing income drop as much as 50 percent in the past year, according to a lawsuit it filed against the city last month.