Yes taxi brothers and sisters, the City of Seattle medallion lottery drawing is upon us, Wednesday, November 4th being the big day. From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM they will be choosing at least 100 entries for the first 35 medallions that are to be awarded in December, with another 65 medallions coming in January 2016. For those who are mathematically deficient (count me amongst you) that adds up to 90 medallions. I was told today that they plan to release even more medallions in 2016 on top of this initial 90. While that might be exciting to some, remember that our market is already saturated to bursting, making it even more difficult to pay those bills.
One very big negative is that the lottery is open to anyone meeting the minimum requirements, meaning any current medallion owner also qualifies, which many of us would call unfair but the City of Seattle says it is bound by law and cannot limit entry. Need I remind anyone that it was the City of Seattle who allowed illegal Uber and flat-rate for hire operation within Seattle city limits for over three years, thus making any adherence to legal guidelines farcical.
But they have added a provision mandating that any current medallion holder relinquish 50 % of their ownership interest. While on first take that might sound fair until you realize that by shifting ownership to a friend you have essentially retained ownership. If you don't believe me, let's say that I am a current owner and I win a medallion. All I need do is shift 50 % to that most famous of personages, "she-who-can't-be-named," and end of story, I am still completely in charge of the medallion. Another condition is that you have to actively drive the taxi for three years. Even in this down market, you will probably be able to sell the medallion for 25-50 thousand, so from whatever angle you look at, winning one of these licenses is a good deal.
In other taxi news, Yellow's move is imminent, moving to the old STITA taxi lot, at S. 128th & Des Moines around the second week in November. Yellow (BYG) is dramatically changing its business model by eliminating car ownership and financial overhead by leasing out its medallions. Just before I left for Europe, in a rushed decision, I took over YC 478, buying the car and taking on all responsibilities, including insurance and maintenance. It is interesting being a "quasi-owner." I have two veterans of the taxi byways driving the day and night shifts, Tom on day, and Ray at night. I am back to my tried-and true weekends.
Another "something new" that Puget Sound Dispatch is doing is eliminating all cash transactions and transferring all account transactions to individual debit cards. Opening up my envelope today I was completely mystified by the entire process. All we can hope is that the transition will be better thought out than the flawed computer system debut. That was, as reported, nightmarish. But any screw-ups regarding accessibly to our money will cause a riot. Nothing to fool around with, that is for sure.
Two Deaths in the Taxi Family
Terry Davis, a long time taxi industry advocate, recently succumbed to prostate cancer after a long battle with the disease. Terry was once president of a driver organization called the "The Cab Drivers Alliance of King County.'" I knew him as a fellow TAG member. There will be a memorial and remembrance for Terry on Saturday, 11 AM, October 31st, 2015 at Matthews Beach Park, located just off Sand Point Way. The official address is 5100 NE 93rd Street. An enduring legacy is Terry's push to have signs in Braille placed in all Seattle and King County taxis. Thanks to him the vision-impaired have more information literally at their fingertips.
Also dying recently was my friend and former Taxi Superintendent, Jack McQuirk. I have no information other than he is dead. It is disturbing news to say the least.
November is 3rd is election day. Tune in Friday and read my recommendations. This is an extremely important election for us in the industry. We require friends, not active opponents on the Seattle City Council.