New York City’s iconic yellow taxis are a vital part of the city’s public transportation network. But how many of them are actually allowed on the streets? If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: There are currently 13,587 taxi medallions in NYC.

This comprehensive guide will dive deep into the details on medallions and taxis in New York. We’ll look at the history of the medallion system, break down medallion ownership, explain recent changes, and more.

History of NYC Taxi Medallions

The history of taxi medallions in New York City dates back to the early 20th century. The medallion system was created as a way to regulate the number of taxis on the streets and ensure passenger safety.

Why the medallion system was created

In the early 1900s, New York City faced a problem of unregulated taxi services. There were too many taxis competing for customers, leading to chaotic streets and unsafe driving practices. To address this issue, the city implemented the medallion system in 1937.

The purpose was to limit the number of taxis allowed to operate in the city and maintain a balance between supply and demand.

The medallion system was also established to ensure that taxi drivers were properly licensed and regulated. It required drivers to meet certain criteria, including passing background checks, demonstrating knowledge of city streets, and maintaining a clean driving record.

This helped to improve passenger safety and ensure a certain level of professionalism among taxi drivers.

Key developments over time

Over the years, there have been several key developments in the NYC taxi medallion system. One significant change occurred in the 1960s when the city introduced color-coded medallions to differentiate between different types of taxis.

Yellow medallions were designated for regular taxis, while green medallions were for environmentally-friendly taxis.

In recent years, the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft has had a significant impact on the taxi medallion industry. The increased competition and convenience offered by these app-based services have led to a decline in the value of medallions and a decrease in traditional taxi ridership.

It’s worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenges faced by the taxi industry. With travel restrictions and a decrease in overall demand for transportation, many taxi drivers struggled to make a living.

Despite these challenges, the NYC taxi medallion system continues to play a role in regulating the city’s taxi industry. While the number of medallions may have fluctuated over the years, they remain an integral part of the city’s transportation infrastructure.

For more information on the history of NYC taxi medallions, you can visit the official website of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Breakdown of Medallion Owners

Fleets vs. individual owners

When it comes to taxi medallion ownership in New York City, there is a diverse mix of both individual owners and fleet owners. Individual owners typically own a single medallion and operate their own taxi.

These individuals often have a deep connection to the city and its streets, as they have spent years navigating its roads. They take pride in their work and are known for their friendly and knowledgeable service.

On the other hand, fleet owners own multiple medallions and operate a fleet of taxis. These fleets can range in size, from a few cars to hundreds. Fleet owners have the advantage of being able to offer a more extensive service, with taxis available at all times of the day and night.

They also have the resources to invest in technology and marketing to improve efficiency and attract more customers.

According to recent statistics, there are approximately 13,587 individual taxi medallions and 4,572 fleet-owned medallions in New York City. This shows that while fleet ownership is prevalent, there is still a significant number of individual owners who contribute to the city’s taxi industry.

Shift toward corporate owners

In recent years, there has been a notable shift toward corporate ownership of taxi medallions in New York City. Large companies and investors have recognized the potential for profit in the taxi industry and have acquired significant numbers of medallions.

This shift has resulted in a more corporate and business-oriented approach to taxi ownership, with a focus on maximizing profits and streamlining operations.

One reason for this shift is the increasing popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. These services have disrupted the traditional taxi industry and have led to a decline in medallion values.

As a result, individual owners have struggled to maintain profitability, leading some to sell their medallions to corporate buyers.

Additionally, corporate ownership offers economies of scale and the ability to invest in technology and marketing to stay competitive in the evolving transportation landscape. Companies can also leverage their resources to negotiate better deals with suppliers and service providers, further increasing their profitability.

It is important to note that this shift toward corporate ownership has not completely eliminated individual owners from the industry. Many individuals still own and operate their own taxis, providing a personal touch and a unique experience to passengers.

However, the rise of corporate ownership has undoubtedly changed the landscape of the taxi industry in New York City.

For more information on taxi medallion ownership in New York City, you can visit the official website of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Changes to Medallions in Recent Years

In recent years, the taxi industry in New York City has undergone significant changes, primarily due to the rise of rideshare apps and the subsequent decline in medallion prices. These changes have had a profound impact on the number of taxi medallions in the city, as well as the overall dynamics of the industry.

Growth of rideshare apps

One of the key factors that has contributed to the changes in the taxi medallion industry is the rapid growth of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. These apps have revolutionized the way people hail and ride taxis, providing a convenient and often more affordable alternative to traditional taxis.

The ease of booking a ride through a smartphone app and the flexibility of becoming a rideshare driver have attracted a large number of users and drivers alike.

As rideshare apps gained popularity, the demand for traditional taxi services decreased significantly. This shift in consumer behavior has resulted in a surplus of taxi medallions, as the number of taxis on the road exceeded the demand for their services.

Many taxi medallion owners who had previously relied on the steady income generated from their medallions found themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Declining medallion prices

With the decrease in demand for taxi medallions, the prices of these valuable permits have also plummeted. Once considered a lucrative investment, taxi medallions have lost a significant portion of their value in recent years.

In fact, the average price of a New York City taxi medallion has dropped by more than 80% since its peak in 2014.

The declining medallion prices have had devastating consequences for many taxi medallion owners. Some have been forced to sell their medallions at a fraction of the price they originally paid, while others have defaulted on their loans, leading to foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The financial hardship faced by medallion owners has prompted calls for government intervention and support.

While the taxi industry continues to adapt to the changing landscape, the total number of taxi medallions in New York City remains relatively stable. However, the distribution of these medallions has shifted, with rideshare apps now dominating the market.

The future of the taxi medallion industry in New York City is uncertain, but one thing is clear: the rise of rideshare apps has forever changed the way people get around the city.

Future Outlook for Medallions

Proposals for reform

The future of taxi medallions in New York City is currently being discussed and debated due to the changing dynamics of the transportation industry. With the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the demand for traditional taxis has declined significantly.

As a result, the value of taxi medallions has plummeted, causing financial hardships for many medallion owners.

Various proposals for reform have been put forward to address these challenges. One suggestion is to introduce a buyback program, where the city would purchase medallions from struggling owners at a fair price. This would provide much-needed relief to those burdened with high medallion loans.

Another proposal involves loosening regulations and allowing taxi medallions to be used for other purposes, such as ride-sharing or delivery services. By expanding the potential uses of medallions, their value could increase, providing a lifeline to medallion owners.

Additionally, there have been calls for increased oversight and regulation of ride-sharing companies to level the playing field for traditional taxis. Stricter regulations could help protect the livelihoods of taxi drivers and medallion owners who have invested heavily in the industry.

What’s next for taxis?

The future of taxis in New York City is uncertain, but there are several potential paths forward. Some experts believe that the traditional taxi industry will continue to exist alongside ride-sharing services, albeit in a diminished capacity.

Despite the convenience and affordability of ride-sharing, there are still certain advantages that traditional taxis offer, such as the ability to hail a cab on the street and the assurance of a licensed and trained driver.

Another possibility is the integration of ride-sharing and traditional taxis through partnerships and collaborations. In some cities, taxi companies have formed alliances with ride-sharing services to provide a seamless and integrated transportation experience.

This could be a way for taxis to adapt to the changing landscape and regain some of their lost market share.

Ultimately, the future of taxi medallions and the taxi industry as a whole will depend on a combination of regulatory changes, technological advancements, and consumer preferences. It is clear that the status quo is no longer sustainable, and innovative solutions will be needed to ensure the viability of traditional taxis in the years to come.


While the number of taxi medallions in New York has stayed steady for decades, seismic shifts in ridership have led to major uncertainty about their future. But New Yorkers’ enduring love for yellow cabs, and emerging proposals for change, suggest taxis will continue serving the city for years to come.

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