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Cab Medallions in Chicago, Once Worth $360K, Now Selling for $240K

By Ted Cox | October 2, 2015 1:18pm | Updated on October 2, 2015 1:42pm
 Taxi file photo
Taxi file photo
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Creative Commons/Mark Tarlock

CITY HALL — The value of a taxi medallion in Chicago is falling, city officials say, the victim of upstart ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft.

"We have a problem," Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said at a budget hearing Friday.

Beale said that the value of the city's 6,900 taxi medallions peaked at $360,000. Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek, head of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection,

Lapacek said 12 sold in transfers this year averaged $240,000, adding that 74 medallions are currently in foreclosure.

"Now you can't give a medallion away," Beale said.

Lapacek got caught in the crossfire Friday between cabbies and ride-hailing drivers, as both sides turned out in force for her budget hearing, with taxi advocates in the majority in the City Council gallery.

Beale (9th), chairman of the Transportation Committee, called for "fairness" between the established taxi industry and ride-hailing firms.

The alderman suggested increasing a proposed 50-cent-a-ride surcharge on both cabs and ride-hailing trips to $1 for the latter, also known as Transportation Network Providers. He repeated his proposal that it could enable the city to withdraw proposals for a fee on garbage collection.

Beale also said calling for ride-hailing drivers to have a chauffeur's license would generate another $12 million.

Taxi drivers cheered Beale and others who supported them, but Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) played to the other side.

"I think you've been unfairly criticized today," he told Lapacek, asking how many complaints were made about each side.

Lapacek said her department received 13 complaints on ride-hailing drivers last year and 6,000 about cabs — producing applause from ride-hailing drivers and boos from cabbies.

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), vice chairman of the Budget Committee, who ran the hearing in the absence of Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), warned both sides not to cheer or jeer or that he'd clear the gallery.

Austin came in at the end of the morning hearing and scolded aldermen for ambushing Lapacek when they could have taken up their issues on taxis in private.

"Everybody wants to showboat," Austin said, adding that they'd answer to her if they ever treated the commissioner the same way again.

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