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Why the taxi industry is so important….

The taxicabs of the United States make up a mature system; most U.S. cities have a licensing scheme which restricts the number of taxicabs allowed. As of 2012, in the United States: the total number of taxi cab drivers is 233,900; the average annual salary of a taxi cab driver is $22,820; the expected percent job increase over the next 10 years is 16%.

In New York City a ‘medallion’ is required in order to legally pick up passengers flagging on the street. Very few other cities have medallions, and most cities never allowed City permits to be traded at will by the public—but in New York City the medallion represents an investment instrument that has soared in value to astronomical heights. Medallions, or CPNC (Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience), may also be sold in Boston, or Chicago, but in San Francisco—one of the few other cities that has medallions—the sale of medallions became prohibited by Prop K in 1978. This proposition was adopted to stop speculators from driving the price of medallions up beyond the reach of the people who provide the service—the drivers. In 2010, the City of San Francisco is attempting to allow the sale of medallions (for an estimated $250,000 each) in order to balance the City budget.

Some taxicab companies are independently owned small businesses with only one taxicab and driver, but many cab companies have fleets of 100 or more taxicabs. Drivers are rarely employees of the company, and usually lease the taxicab on a per-shift basis. Lease drivers receive no benefits from the taxicab company, and often have to bribe dispatchers to get a shift. However, in some cases, cabs can also be owned by separately-incorporated small businesses that subscribe to a dispatch service, in which case the company logo on the door is that of the dispatch association. The owner/driver will pay a monthly fee to the taxicab company; purchase and maintain his own vehicle; and may in turn lease shifts to other drivers.

A suburban taxi company may operate under several different names serving several adjacent towns. They often provide different phone numbers for each fleet, but they usually all ring into a central dispatch office. They may have subsidiary taxi businesses holding licences in each town. Taxi companies also may run multiple businesses, such as non-taxi car services, delivery services, and school buses, for additional revenue, as the infrastructure required for maintaining, operating and dispatching the fleet can be shared.
Taxi driving is considered one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs. One study concluded that taxi drivers had the fifth worst job of 2011.

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