An SF Town Taxi driver passes outside City Hall during a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 to protest new rules limiting taxicab pickups from San Francisco Internationa Airport. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Another SF cab company faces closure

Town Taxi in dissolution talks with city after more than 20 years in the business

The latest local cab industry casualty is SF Town Taxi, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, it may come as no surprise that taxi companies are running on fumes.

Now, roughly two years after Yellow Cab Co-Op filed for bankruptcy and was absorbed by a competitor, a medium-sized taxi company, SF Town Taxi, has begun talks with The City to dissolve.

SF Town Taxi officials declined to comment.

But in an email to the Examiner, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency confirmed “we have been informed that Town Taxi is transitioning to non-operational” soon. The company is working with SFMTA on a dissolution plan that is required by city law when any taxi company “will be terminating its business operations” and “surrendering its permit.”

While it isn’t necessarily The City’s most prominent cab company, SF Town Taxi is decades old. It formed in 1996 after another cab company closure, and about 78 taxi medallions — industry jargon for operating permits — work out of the company.

Those roughly 78 taxi drivers will be “welcome to operate” at National Cab Company, according to SFMTA, though it is not certain they will do so.

While some may be eager to point to competition from the ever-growing Uber and Lyft as the reason for another taxi company closure, some in the taxi industry laid the problem at the feet of the SFMTA.

Mary McGuire, a San Francisco taxi driver, told the SFMTA Board of Directors at its Tuesday meeting that Town Taxi’s closure was due to new rules the agency instituted at the San Francisco International Airport.

Those rules gave preference for airport pickups to taxi drivers who paid for medallions that cost $250,000 apiece in 2012 and in the years following. SFMTA was sued by the San Francisco Federal Credit Union in April last year for allegedly allowing those drivers with paid medallions to default on their loans to the credit union after the industry began to fall apart.

SFMTA’s airport priority plan aimed to help those taxi drivers earn a profit again, but McGuire alleged that it also picked winners and losers. Notably, about half of SF Town Taxi’s medallions were from the group that was given lower priority at SFO.

“Got word today another casualty of the cab business, Town Taxi is apparently folding as a result of your airport policies you adopted,” she said.

SFMTA Director of Taxi and Accessible Services Kate Toran told the Examiner, “Town did not indicate that as a factor in their communications with SFMTA.”

joe@sfexaminer.com

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