Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The catch to the $80K cab medallion? You have to be a decent person.

Walking home from one of my less stressful days at the new job, I decided to take the long way. People were out in numbers enjoying the overcast, yet uniquely springlike day. Dogs, joggers, commuters, everyone was happy. As I set out to cross Chestnut Street, I looked down beside me and smiled at a giggling baby. The light turned green, and then I heard it, and smelled it. 

The sound of worn shocks barreling towards us, one of Philadelphia's notoriously disgusting taxi cabs blaring the horn as if that somehow allowed him to run the light. The woman pulled her stroller back towards the sidewalk and I screamed, "Watch it, man!" 

As he sped past the intersection, a waft of B.O. delivered his retort, "F*CK YOU, MOTHER F*CKER!" 

When the day comes that Uber puts every one of these rolling bed bugs out of business, I'm throwing a party. At one point, that seemed impossible. Not because taxis were significantly more affordable, not because the cab companies upped their game. No, because of Philadelphia's long standing dedication to bureaucracy, unions, and all things illogical. 

But travelers, rejoice. That day will come. The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been dropping the price of its excessively costly medallions ever since Uber changed the game. Once going for a mind-blowing half a million dollars, one can be picked up now for a measly $400,000. And get this, if you want a medallion without mortgaging your children, you can get your hands on a wheelchair accessible medallion for eighty grand

Now you might think that the PPA is offering accessible medallions at a dramatic discount because, hey, disabled people need cabs more than anyone. You might think, hey, that PPA ain't such a bad guy after all. You'd be wrong. The reason the PPA cut those medallions from $475,000 to $80,000 is because, you guessed it, nobody wanted them. 

I know this will come as a shock, but cab drivers don't really like transporting people who need assistance, even blind paraplegics. Sorry to spoil it for you, but their surly demeanor isn't masking a heart of gold. 

Now, the cabs aren't going anywhere and neither are the 1600 medallions. In fact, the lower medallion value likely means the drivers will get nastier, ruder, and more reckless through crosswalks. But if it causes them to jack up the price for a fare, it just makes Uber even more desirable, valuable, and relevant. 

And is anyone else happy that Uber Black finally gave the handsome Chrysler 300 a reason for existing?

I know I'm in the minority, but come on, that's a sexy car. If it came in stick, I might actually own one. Dear Chrysler (Daimler? Fiat? Lee Iacocca?), please deliver us a sport coupe from wherever you're manufacturing these things.

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