Independent taxi medallion owners protest in front of TLC offices

Karina E. Cuevas

More than two dozen independent taxi medallion owners rallied Sunday morning in front of the Taxi and Limousine Commission office asking to be heard.

The owners demand that app-based car companies, such as Uber and other for-hire vehicles, be held accountable under the same rules and regulations they are subjected to by the city and not be allowed to pick up street hails.

“If you click on your phone and request a car or hail, you’re basically doing the same thing as putting your hand up and hail and say I want a yellow cab,” said Manjot Gill, 25, son of a medallion owner and organizer of the rally. “That exclusive right was sold to these taxi medallion owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not for a million dollars plus now you’re telling me that these new companies come in here and don’t charge for anything to have that right, there is no fairness in that.”

Between 2006 and 2014, New York City sold 1,400 medallions to the public and with it the right to hail in the streets. The city generated about $850 million in revenues after the medallions sold for almost $900,000 a piece.

“That person’s voice needs to be heard in this debate and they need to be included at the table negotiating how this industry needs to be reformed;” said Norman Siegel, the attorney representing the medallion owners. “These folks are individual men and women, these are the small guys and New York has always vetted for the little person, so we have to get their voices and faces out there so people know who is being affected by this new technology.”

He added that after the first rally held on Wednesday in front of City Hall, TLC reached out and are in talks to hold a meeting with the medallion owners, but is disappointed he has not heard from the mayor’s office.

The Taxi Medallion Owner/Drivers Association represents roughly 6,000 independent owners and drivers.

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