Boston taxi cab medallion owners who read this Boston Globe Spotlight Report and investigation into their business practices won’t be pleased with most of it. For sure, they’ll be happy to see that Globe number crunchers got it right when calculating how much money they have made from profits of owning medallions.
The Boston Cab Company had its operations roundly criticized. One of the reporters for the story put his hackney license to work by driving a taxi for that company while investigating how things worked. Bribes are a Common Routine for Boston Taxi Drivers is the title of the first printed article in the series and there’s a video that goes along with it. More will follow during the week.
Boston has 1,825 licensed taxi cab medallions valued at $600,000 each in 2013 although many were acquired over the years for less than half that amount, the article reported. You can buy a house in Boston for less money than these medals are worth. Vehicles they’re attached to bring medallion owners $200 a day or $73,000 a year in base rental fees paid by drivers. At an average new car cost of $20,000 plus annual maintenance and insurance costs, the owner’s return on their medallion investments is looking pretty good.
The reporting team estimated there were 14 million passengers paying $250 million to ride in taxis last year. Or course, all but the rental fees to the owners goes with the drivers. There were about 6,000 drivers. The average driver was reported to gross about $27,000 per year. They’re not paid to work hourly. They only get paid when a passenger steps up and some work 18 hours a day to make enough money to cover the $100-$200 daily rental/lease contracts.
The article makes great waves about how poor cab drivers are but this has me scratching my head. They always say they are making no money, said a Hackney Division regulator in the article but that can’t be true for all of them.
Some drivers make $600 to $800 for a 3-day work week after expenses and there is a lot of cash flowing through. But clearly, most drivers are barely scraping by. They know when they are being taken advantage of but they keep driving and taking the shit because its their livelyhood.
Stay tuned for more to come out from the article series.