Fearing unfair competition from Uber and Lyft, The City just cut taxi drivers a break.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve waiving taxi medallion renewal fees for this year, which are $1,000 annually.
“We’re trying to level the playing field,” said Kate Toran, taxi director at the SFMTA.
Uber and Lyft drivers do not pay the fees to start driving, but taxi drivers must own or lease medallions from The City. Since 2010, medallions cost $250,000, and require annual renewal fees. Medallions are essentially permits to drive.
This waiver applies to roughly 1,800 medallion holders, except for corporate entities that own medallions. The board also voted to waive $255 fees for new applications to drive taxis.
The SFMTA estimates it will lose about $800,000 from waiving the fees this year.
Toran noted the taxi industry faces more fees and regulations than Uber and Lyft do. She will continue to try “leveling the playing field” at the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Uber and Lyft in California.
Toran said she will ask that Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies receive the same regulations as taxis: training, licensing, clean-air requirements, accessibility for passengers with disabilities, fingerprinted criminal background checks, and full insurance coverage. None of those are requirements Uber and Lyft have to abide by now, although taxis must — including the costs associated with them.