SFMTA's taxi medallion plan could take next step

A new entity could be created to drive forward the long-stalled plan to sell taxi medallions to raise funds for the cash-strapped San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Taxi medallions act as permits to operate cabs, and owners can lease them out to drivers.

In February, the SFMTA board of directors approved a pilot program that would allow the transit agency and certain medallion holders to sell the permits for $250,000 to willing participants.

Historically, the medallions were awarded to drivers on a waiting list — one that now has a 15-year backlog. But under the pilot program, cabbies can skip the list and purchase one from either the SFMTA or a medallion owner.

The SFMTA projects $11.2 million in revenue this fiscal year from medallion sales, although no transactions have been completed.

To help monitor the new program, a 15-person advisory council composed of taxi industry officials has been proposed. The group, which would not have any regulatory authority, will likely operate for two years, although it could be replaced by a permanent group after that, according to SFMTA documents.

The transit agency’s board will vote today on the proposal to create the Taxi Advisory Council.

In March 2009, the SFMTA merged with the Taxicab Commission, a city agency formerly in charge of regulating the industry. The commission was disbanded as a result of the merger.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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