Another Successful Accessible Medallion Auction
The month of October 2007 saw our second to last medallion sale go off without a hitch and with little fanfare, and nevertheless - with tremendous success for accomplishing our regulatory goals. This sale was the first 63 of a total 150 medallions for exclusive use on wheelchair accessible vehicles, and represents significant progress for passengers with disabilities as well as a bargain for the winning bidders. In the near future, a total of 230 accessible taxicabs will be on the streets of our city, more than any other U.S. city. We intend to utilize these medallions to enhance the availability of service to disabled passengers as part of a technology-based dispatch system that we are finalizing as I am writing this column. The auction has also helped many drivers realize the dream and reality of ownership, while saving tens of thousands of dollars from the market value medallion price due to a combination of our waiving the transfer tax as well as setting the lowest minimum upset price yet. One can only imagine the number of children who were put through college and the number of hardworking folks whose medallion afforded them a comfortable retirement - and we are gratified to continue to have such a positive impact on people's lives.
You can read more about the auction by visiting http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/downloads/pdf/press_release_11_01_07.pdf,
and you can actually see how the auction went bid by bid by visiting http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/downloads/pdf/accessible_medallion_bid_result.pdf. The final planned auction is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2008, when those who were not successful in bidding will have one final opportunity to purchase accessible corporate minifleets.
Some Medallion History to Celebrate 100 Years
As we continue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the taxicab, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share some New York City medallion history with those newcomers to the industry. The New York City Board of Aldermen - which was the precursor to the NYC Council - crafted the basis for the medallion system via the Haas Act in 1937. More than simply a response to the glut of taxi operators that flooded the industry during and after the great Depression, the Haas Act: (1) set the "60/40" ratio of Corporate to Independent medallions; and (2) limited the number of licenses to the 13,500 that existed in 1937. This freeze allowed the number of taxicabs competing for a scarce dollar to ultimately fall by attrition to 11,787, a number that remained consistent from the mid-1940s to 1996. At that time, the previous administration received authorization to add 400 new medallions which were sold between 1996 and September of 1997. It was not until 2002 that the Bloomberg Administration received authorization, and the necessary local and State legislation, to sell an additional 900 over the course of the last three fiscal years. The men and women who participated in our auction this past month - whether successful bidders or not - are placed squarely among the architects of the taxicab industry's 100 year history. It is they who have pledged their livelihoods to make this industry the world leader that it is today.
Top City Technology Award for TLC Taxi Passenger Enhancement Project
Since we are sharing good news, I am both pleased and privileged to let you know that TLC Chief of Staff Ira Goldstein was honored by the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and received its Annual Award for Demonstrated Excellence in Project Management. It can truly be said that Ira has lived and breathed the Taxi Passenger Enhancement Project (T-PEP) for the more than three years it has been in development. He has seen it through more than 30 programmatic milestones, countless challenges, and the crafting of a hundreds-of-pages long contract that protects drivers and owners as well as it lays out the project from A to Z. He has also put together a truly excellent team of professionals with whom I know he shares this outstanding achievement (see the accompanying photo). While all of these things speak to Ira's knowledge, his professionalism and his drive to see this project succeed, I think it is the fact that, despite all of the sacrificed nights, weekends, holidays and vacations that he has given to this project, Ira remains as excited and enthusiastic as he was on "day one." While this has truly been a team effort like no other, there is no one who deserves this spectacular accolade more than Mr. Ira J. Goldstein.
Bravo and well done!
From left to right, celebrating the prestigious honor bestowed upon Ira Goldstein (center, with award) are technology team members Serge Royter, Aileen Fox, Gary Roth, Sam Shady, First Deputy Commissioner Andrew Salkin, DoITT Commissioner Paul Cosgrave, and TLC Commissioner Matthew W. Daus.