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Uber's Fare War on New York Taxis Puts Million-Dollar Medallions at Risk

Uber's Fare War on New York Taxis Puts Million-Dollar Medallions at Risk
Photograph by Richard Perry/The New York Times via Redux

It’s been a great run for New York City’s taxi medallion speculators, but the party could be coming to an end. The average price fell by $5 in June—a slight decline for medallions, which trade for a bit more than $1 million apiece, but still an unheard-of occurrence in recent years. Now Uber, the nationwide scourge of taxi fleets and car services, is moving to make them worth even less by undercutting yellow cabs on price. The company is temporarily reducing New York prices on its low-cost UberX service by 20 percent and boasting that it’s cheaper than taxis in the city.

While Uber has wreaked havoc on the car-service industry in recent years, taxi medallions in America’s biggest city have continued to appreciate at a striking clip. New York keeps the number of medallions low enough that there’s always more demand for rides than there are cabs, which is good news for taxi drivers. Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, which facilitates medallion sales, told me in February that taxi fleets will likely never have to worry about smartphone-based disruption facing the city’s less regulated livery sector. “Uber is nothing more than a terrific black-car company,” he said.