Driving a cab isn’t a road to riches — especially now that the streets are flooded with drivers for new on-demand services UberX and Lyft. But after 20 years as a San Francisco cabbie, when Gerard Rowland got the chance to buy a taxi medallion last year, he didn’t hesitate. “It’s a gamble, but it’s always a gamble with the taxi business,” he said. “There are bad years and good; we’ve always had threats against our existence, from BART, Super Shuttle and other things. Competition like this Uber stuff would have happened anyway.” Now Rowland, 53, is an owner-operator, driving about six 10-hour shifts a week and leasing his new $30,000 Toyota Prius to other drivers the rest of the time. Taxi medallions — the government-issued right to operate a single cab — have fallen in value in many cities, a clear indicator of the ride services’ impact. New York, Chicago and Boston all saw medallion prices tumble by about 20 percent in the past year. But in San Francisco, medallion prices are set at $250,000 by the Municipal Transportation Agency, which says there are still plenty of buyers, with 681 sold since 2010. (Of those, 200 went for $125,000… Read full this story
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