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Cab Drivers Wary Of Proposed San Francisco Taxi Industry Reforms

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- After all of the hardship that has befallen San Francisco's taxicab industry, drivers gathered Tuesday outside City Hall to predict more disaster.

Inside, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was presenting a set of taxi market reforms designed to help the drivers who have invested as much as a quarter million dollars in the city's medallion program, only to see that entire economy undermined by tens of thousands of rideshare drivers.

So, the reforms are aimed at the drivers who made that investment – such as giving them exclusive access to pickups at San Francisco International Airport.

"We're trying to bring value to our purchased medallion holders, because they are the ones who have invested the most," said Kate Toran, SFMTA Director, Taxi and Accessible Services.

Another proposal would eliminate an entire class of medallions. "And so their plan is to directly confiscate what are called the pre-K medallions, under the guise that they've made enough money in their lifetime, which I think is sadistic," said taxi driver Carl Macmurdo.

The city also wants to loosen up the frozen market by allowing for new possible buyers and eliminating the transfer fees. We ran those ideas past the city's medallion lending partner, who is currently suing the city for $28 million.

"Too little, too late," said SF Federal Credit Union CEO Jonathan Oliver. "The elephant in the room is still the medallion price. No one will buy a medallion at $250,000, even with these changes."

So a bit of a fait accompli Tuesday, we knew drivers would not like the proposals. They showed up in numbers that overwhelmed the hearing room and they're a little upset about these proposals.

What we do not know, is how SFMTA will receive the proposals. They could accept some, all, or none of it.

Meanwhile, five San Francisco supervisors have sent a letter to the SFMTA asking them to slow down on the proposals.

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