San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance

Take the P Medallion Survey
Your Feedback is Important!

We need your help to keep up the pressure and to strategize. We’ve created a survey to gather information on the status of P medallions and to get your opinion on how the medallion sales program can best be fixed. 

Please click on the link below to take the survey.

P Medallion Owner Survey

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You may want to have your loan paperwork handy.
After you complete the survey, make sure to tell others.



June 28, 2023
For immediate release

SFTWA Urges the CPUC to Put the Brakes on AVs

Beleaguered San Francisco taxi drivers, chafing under unfair competition from Uber and Lyft and the crushing burden of six-figure medallion debt that many of them face, now have to deal with another existential threat: autonomous vehicles (AVs), which pose a clear and present danger to the driver’s livelihood and public safety.  

In the short time the two leading AV companies, Cruise and Waymo, have conducted limited operations in SF, the city has received hundreds of reports of hazardous incidents, including mass breakdowns, lengthy street blockages, obstructing public transportation, and repeated interference with police and firefighting operations. According to city officials, AVs have hampered fire responses at least 18 times. Many more incidents have undoubtedly gone unreported.

“We have many more taxis in operation in San Francisco than there are AVs, said SFTWA Board Member Mark Gruberg. “If we were responsible for even a small portion of the chaos they are causing, there would be public outrage.”

Despite their dismal record to date, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is poised to approve Cruise and Waymo to begin citywide, 24/7 commercial AV transportation services. “AV operations are a massive experiment, with the public as guinea pigs,” Gruberg said. “The CPUC is bestowing a premature approval on an immature technology.”

In addition to the hazardous conditions they create, the operation of hundreds, and possibly thousands of AVs is bound to increase congestion on San Francisco streets. Uber and Lyft are a case in point. Study after study has shown that they are a major cause of traffic jams. AVs will only make things worse.

AVs will also cost jobs. That threat is bad news for taxi passengers as well as their drivers, since taxis are essential transportation for many members of the public. Seniors and people with disabilities often depend on a human driver to help them get in and out of the cab, and to carry luggage, groceries, etc.

The black cloud hanging over the taxi industry with the coming of AVs is especially threatening to taxi drivers who bought a medallion. While those drivers, who are largely immigrant and working class, had to pay $250,000 for their medallions, two giant corporations now stand to get essentially the same permit for free. The consequences could be dire. “Of the 700 or so medallion purchasers, some 300 have already lost their medallions to foreclosure,” Gruberg said. “Once AVs have gained a foothold, the rest may not be far behind.”

AVs are at the forefront of an ominous menace to the economy as a whole: the catastrophic job losses that artificial intelligence (AI) portends if left unchecked. “Taxi drivers are the canaries in the coal mine in the coming AI onslaught,” Gruberg said. “Our jobs may go first, but yours could be next.”

SFTWA will participate in a protest against the California Public Utilities Commission’s pending approval of Cruise and Waymo for 24/7 AV operations throughout San Francisco on Thursday, June 29 at 10 a.m. at CPUC headquarters, 505 Van Ness Avenue


A Raise for Taxi Drivers!

Taxi meter rates were last increased in 2011 -- over a decade ago. From June 2011 to June 2022, the Consumer Price Index went up by 41%. From January 2011 to July 2022, San Francisco’s minimum wage increased by 72%. Median income for individuals in San Francisco has increased 51.3% and for households, 63.3% from 2011 to 2022. Gas prices are up 51% from July 18, 2011 to July 18, 2022. On top of that, taxi lease fees have gone up significantly in recent months.

We propose that the following measures be adopted:

  • An increase in the flag drop of 40-65 cents, to $3.95-$4.20
  • An increase in time and distance rates of 5 to 10 cents, to 60-65 cents for each 1/5th mile and each minute of waiting time
  • Pending approval of a permanent meter increase, a temporary fuel surcharge of $1-3 a ride, depending on trip distance
  • A study by the Controller's Office on taxi rates
  • Review of the current gate fee cap
  • Caps on all fees drivers pay to cab companies or to other drivers, including daily, weekly, and monthly leases and affiliate charges to owner-operator drivers
  • A proportional increase in the monthly allowance for paratransit and ETC trips
  • An annual review of meter rates so that periodic adjustments may be made


Eleven years is a long time to wait for a raise!

You can read our full letter to the SFMTA on a taximeter rate increase here.

Are you a taxi driver who uses the Flywheel App?

Does Flywheel owe you money?

Please click on the link below to take our survey whether you are owed money or not.

And read our letter to the SFMTA here.


Flywheel App Drivers Survey

This survey is CLOSED. Thank you for taking the survey!






April 4, 2022
For immediate release

SFTWA Statement on Uber-Taxi Deal

One of the most significant changes ever proposed for the San Francisco taxi industry will be considered by the SFMTA Board on Tuesday, April 5.

Uber and the Flywheel taxi app are teaming up to offer Uber rides to San Francisco taxi drivers. On Tuesday, the SFMTA Board will vote on whether to amend the transportation code to allow an “upfront fare pilot.” This pilot will allow taxi apps—so far just Flywheel—to dispatch trips that originate with Uber at rates that are not required to match taxi meter rates. Time and distance rates will be set by Uber and may be higher or lower than the regulated taxi meter rate.

Is this in the best interests of taxi drivers, the taxi industry and the public? Uber and Flywheel will certainly benefit. Uber has a driver shortage, especially full-time drivers. This deal gives Uber hundreds of experienced, full-time drivers at no cost. And both Uber and Flywheel will get a commission on each trip. Taxi drivers will see additional demand, but will they benefit financially? Fares that are not enough for Uber drivers will not be enough to support taxi drivers, many of whom have higher expenses, including medallion loan payments.

We’ve been told that program rules will contain safeguards to protect both taxi drivers and our traditional taxi passengers. But the program rules are not included in the Transportation Code changes going before SFMTA on Tuesday. The SFMTA Board is voting on a “blank check,” authorizing the upfront fare pilot with Uber without revealing what the final program rules will be. Here are just a few of our concerns:

  • How much will drivers pay in commissions? We have heard the figure 15% mentioned, but whatever the initial amount, what is to stop Uber from raising it? There must be a cap on commissions.


  • Will drivers know if a ride originated with Uber? Drivers should have the right to refuse these rides. But we have heard that drivers won’t be informed if the ride originated with Uber. Drivers must have that information before they accept the ride.


  • Will drivers know what the fare will be? Before accepting rides, drivers have a right to know if the fare will be at a rate below the taxi meter rate.


  • Will drivers be subject to “deactivation”? Drivers have a right to know if Uber’s policy on removing drivers from their app will apply to them. Deactivations often come out of nowhere without explanation or the right to appeal.


  • Will traditional taxi customers, especially those in the Paratransit Program, be well served? The sheer volume of Uber rides that will be diverted to taxis at busy times could severely impact our ability to serve paratransit and other traditional riders. And because Uber surge prices at busy times, taxi drivers will have an incentive to serve Uber passengers at the expense of our regular customer base.


But our most serious concern is this: What will stop Uber from dominating the taxi industry and setting its charges at any rate it wants? Uber is a multi-billion-dollar company with a long history of tinkering with fares and raising its commission. And it has shown over and over that it is not to be trusted. Taxi drivers must be fairly compensated for the work they perform.

Two weeks ago, a similar deal between Uber and taxi apps Curb and Arro was announced in New York City, but there is a major difference between New York and San Francisco. The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission regulates both taxis and TNCs. San Francisco has no regulatory authority over Uber, and yet is inviting it to play an important role in our industry. If it is to play such a role, it must be subject to regulation, as all taxi drivers, medallion holders, companies and dispatch services are.

Taxis are integral to public transportation. Unlike Uber, our rates don’t vary from time to time, place to place, trip to trip. We take multiple forms of payment, including cash, credit cards, Paratransit debit cards and various forms of vouchers.   Anything that might detract from our ability to serve the public at large must be carefully scrutinized, and steps must be taken to prevent that from happening.

Unless and until taxi drivers’ concerns are satisfactorily addressed, the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the SFMTA Board to vote NO on this ill-defined Transportation Code change. We demand much more transparency about how this arrangement will work and adequate safeguards for both taxi drivers and our traditional taxi passengers, especially those in the Paratransit program.



Protest at SFMTA!

Tuesday, March 1 - Mardi Gras

Gathering at 12:30 pm, circle SFMTA from 1 to 2 pm.

Set Us Free!
Medallion Debt Relief Now!
Justice for All Taxi Medallion Purchasers!

Gather at 12:30 pm on 12th Street between So. Van Ness and Howard.
Leaving at 12:45 pm towards SFMTA.
Bring drums and horns!

Join us! Click here to see our flier.

Where is the mayor?

Medallion Debt Relief Campaign

In 2010, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency began selling medallions—the license to operate a taxicab—at a fixed price of $250,000. Taxi drivers, overwhelmingly immigrants of color, saw owning a medallion as a path to the middle class and the American Dream. At first, it seemed like it might turn out that way. Instead, with the unregulated entry of Uber and Lyft a mere two years later, it turned into a nightmare of debt and foreclosures. debt relief cannot wait. To date, almost 40 per cent of all medallions sold have been foreclosed, repossessed by the lending institution because the owners could not make their loan payments. The remaining medallion holders are barely holding on, working 12 to 14 hours a day just to get by.

Unlike taxi drivers who bought medallions, the City benefited from selling them—SFMTA made over $60 million from medallion sales. Yet by allowing Uber and Lyft to launch unimpeded, City policies devalued medallions, leaving medallion holders shackled to debt with deeply underwater loans. As both the cause and benefactor of this crisis, the City has a moral obligation to right this injustice.



We meet Wednesday, Dec. 23, beginning at 11:30 a.m. next to the SFMTA Headquarters on South Van Ness Avenue.


Better Market Street Plan

Representatives from the Department of Public Works and the SFMTA met with taxi drivers on Wednesday Dec. 2 to present the revised Better Market Street Plan. You can view their presentation here:…/2020-12-02_BMS_SFTWA.…

Reflections on the Death of George Floyd

The past two weeks brought us a terrible milestone and a tragedy beyond words. By the end of May, the U.S. surpassed 100,000 deaths from Covid-19. But as unimaginable as that number is, it is even harder to come to terms with the brutal murder of a single man. The death of George Floyd has convulsed the nation.

Yes, we have all witnessed a murder, George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in broad daylight. We saw callous indifference to human life simply because that human being was Black. And just as the onlookers to that brutal act tried to intervene, we as witnesses cannot remain silent. We must stand with those who say Black Lives Matter and join in the national call for racial justice.

Systemic racism is deeply embedded in our culture. Here in San Francisco, we see the results in the geography of our city. The legacy of restrictive covenants and redlining has dictated that most Black residents live in outlying neighborhoods. These marginalized neighborhoods have historically been poorly served by public transportation—and we must acknowledge that they have also been poorly served by taxis.

When taxis refuse to serve certain people or neighborhoods, they help to maintain a wall between those communities and the larger society. The consequences of this walling off go far and wide and deep. Down the road, they lead to the brutal, senseless deaths of George Floyd and others of color at the hands of police.

The natural role of taxis is to act not as a barrier but as a bridge. All people should be able to rely on us to get from home to work, from work to play, from where they are to where they want to be. When we perform that function well, we help to span the wall that divides us one from the next. It can and should be our small but meaningful contribution toward creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society that better matches our country’s professed but often ignored ideals.




An open letter to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Kate Toran, Director of Taxis and Accessible Services;
Philp Cranna, Enforcement and Legal Affairs Manager;
and Jeffrey Tumlin, Executive Director

Dear Kate:

We appreciate your response to the unprecedented financial disaster facing taxi drivers. We’re forwarding the information you provided on financial assistance to our members so that as many drivers as possible are aware of these services.

The deferral of A-card renewal fees until April 7, however, is simply not enough. We hope it is a stopgap measure. In a matter of days, we realized that even our initial request for a three-month deferral would not be enough. We don’t know what will happen to us when all of our deferred bills come due, not just taxi fees, but everything from utilities and credit cards to rent and home mortgage payments—and of course, medallion loan payments.

None of us will be able to catch up quickly and pay all the money owed. None of us know when this health emergency will end, but we know that we’ll need relief for some time after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, therefore, is asking the MTA for additional assistance in this crisis:

  • Work with the San Francisco Federal Credit Union and other lenders to immediately cancel medallion loan payments and stop foreclosures.
  • Waive A-card fees and medallion fees for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year.
  • Waive taxi fees for the next two years.


We heard Director Tumlin at the Budget Open House say that you are considering waiving taxi fees for the next two fiscal years. We strongly support that.

Finally, do not stand by and allow foreclosures on medallion loans during this health crisis. Medallion holders were struggling desperately to make ends meet before this crisis; do not add to their misery with a black mark on their credit due to circumstances entirely outside of their control. Work out forgiveness or buy back medallions, but do something now. To delay in the midst of this crisis is unconscionable.


San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance




Delete Footnote 42!


On January 7, the San Francisco Public Press, a local nonprofit news outlet, published a substantial investigative report on Uber and Lyft’s hidden crash data, data that the California Public Utilities Commission has withheld from public view for years. This investigation comes a month after Uber released its own safety report for 2017 and 2018. While Uber has been lauded for its transparency, the Uber safety report listed only accidents that resulted in fatalities. According to the Public Press, it left out most accidents, including those that resulted in serious injuries caused by problematic drivers who Uber knew, or should have known, posed a risk to the public. By reviewing accident lawsuits and regulatory filings, the Public Press revealed the great lengths Uber and Lyft have gone to in order to keep their crash data secret.


The CPUC requires Uber and Lyft to file annual reports on crashes, trip data and other matters, but after “intense industry lobbying” in 2013, they inserted a footnote in their ruling making these annual reports confidential -- and they did so AFTER the public review period had ended.


The blanket confidentiality extended to Uber and Lyft reports under Footnote 42 has not only kept crash data secret from the public, it has impeded San Francisco and other California cities from getting vital data on the number of Uber and Lyft drivers who use our streets. In comments submitted to the CPUC, San Francisco stated, “The blanket withholding of public data allowed by footnote 42 has deprived every interested public agency of information from which to make informed public policy choices and has compelled us to make extraordinary efforts, at public expense, to understand the impacts of TNCs [e.g., Uber and Lyft] and to enforce state and local laws applicable to TNCs.” Footnote 42 is not only bad public policy. It also violates of the California Constitution and Public Records Act.


In response to the Public Press’s report, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) has written a letter to the CPUC requesting that the CPUC make Uber and Lyft’s annual crash data reports public record, as other reports submitted to public agencies are. Data collected by the SFMTA on taxis is public record. Uber and Lyft data should be, too.


Read the full investigative report from San Francisco Public Press here.




On November 5, San Franciscans will go to the polls and vote on Proposition D, the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Tax, otherwise known as the Uber and Lyft tax. This measure will impose a 3.25% tax on private Uber and Lyft rides and a 1.5% tax on shared rides. The tax is expected to be passed on to passengers. For example, on a $10 Uber ride, a passenger will pay an additional 33 cents; on a $6 shared ride, he or she will pay an additional 11 cents.

The measure is expected to raise $30 to $35 million annually, with half going to the SFMTA to improve Muni service and half going to the SF County Transportation Authority to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety (although how the SFCTA intends to spend the money is unclear).

The Board of Supervisors took their sweet time in putting a measure like this on the ballot: it’s been ten years since Uber launched and nearly eight years since Lyft appeared. These years have brought unfettered growth in the numbers of Ubers and Lyfts, with ever increasing traffic congestion, mounting environmental degradation, dwindling bus ridership, and ever deepening pain on the part of taxi drivers, especially those who paid $250,000 for a medallion.

No one wants Uber and Lyft to pay their fair share more than taxi drivers, but this is not the way. It is too little, too late. So it is with sadness and disappointment that we, the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, have decided to oppose Proposition D. Here are our reasons why:

  • Prop D.’s title is misleading; it will not “mitigate” congestion and was never intended to deal with congestion at all. The idea for the tax came from the SF Transportation 2045 Task Force, which was tasked with finding ways to close Muni’s projected $22 billion funding gap through 2045. Funding Muni is a good cause, but trying to win votes with a misleading title is deceptive. The tax is too low to deter any one from using Uber and Lyft. Drivers from Stockton, Fresno, and even Los Angeles will continue to flock to the City. In 2018, the SF County Transportation Authority concluded that Uber and Lyft account for up to half of the increased congestion downtown. Nothing in Prop. D will ease congestion, but it WILL make Muni dependent on Uber and Lyft—and the more rides they provide, the more money Muni gets.


  • Uber and Lyft cannot survive without competing with Muni. Uber’s IPO filing makes it clear that the company views public transportation—as well as taxis—as a competitor with whom they intend to compete vigorously. Uber sees everyone who owns a car or uses public transportation as a potential customer. “When we enter a new city or launch a new Ridesharing product in a city,” Uber’s S-I filing states, “we aim to reach efficient scale and liquidity rapidly to attract consumers to use our platform as an alternative to personal vehicle ownership and usage of public transportation.” But you don’t have to pore through Uber’s dense IPO filing. Just read what they say on the App Store: “Uber is a ridesharing app for fast, reliable rides in minutes. There’s no need to park or wait for a taxi or a bus.No matter what they say, Uber and Lyft are not helping public transit.


  • The revenue raised with Prop. D is not enough to help Muni, so long as Uber and Lyft continue to lure passengers away from public transportation. While $35 million sounds wonderful, SFMTA’s share of that revenue comes to less than three percent of Muni’s annual budget. Across the nation, Uber and Lyft are devastating public transit. A study by the University of Kentucky shows that for every year after Uber and Lyft enter an urban market, rail ridership can be expected to fall by 1.3 percent and bus ridership by 1.7 percent. It adds up. In San Francisco, where Uber and Lyft have been operating for years, the authors estimate that they have led to a 12.7 percent decline in bus ridership. The study concludes that SFMTA would have to increase transit service by 25 percent just to offset this loss of ridership. Whatever gains in service might be achieved with Prop. D will be wiped out by declining bus ridership.


  • Prop. D will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A study by the SF County Transportation Authority concluded that in 2016 Uber and Lyft added 570,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) daily to our streets. By 2018, according to a study commissioned by Uber and Lyft themselves, that VMT had more than doubled to 1.2 million miles per day. And the percentage of VMT added by Uber and Lyft is higher in San Francisco than in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or Washington, DC. Shared UberPool and Lyft Line rides are not the answer. As a 2018 Schaller Consulting study has shown, shared rides add 2.6 miles to city streets for every mile in a personal vehicle that is not driven, a 160 percent increase in VMT over personal car use. This is partly due to deadheading miles, but also because most passengers would have otherwise walked, biked, or taken a bus.


  • San Francisco is way behind the rest of the country, and state law makes sure we stay behind. Other major cities have levied taxes or fees on Uber and Lyft for years, and many are now finding that their original taxes and fees are too low to offset the problems Uber and Lyft cause. The mayors of Boston, Chicago, and Seattle are pushing for higher levels. For those who believe we can start with a low tax and raise it later if needed, think again. In September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state law, AB 1184, which is nearly identical to Prop. D, except that AB 1184 authorizes San Francisco to tax Uber and Lyft rides in an amount “not to exceed 3.25% of net rider fares . . . and 1.5% of net rider fares for a shared ride.” We cannot raise the tax without overturning AB 1184, which will go into effect in 2020 until 2045. San Francisco is a charter city with the right to levy local taxes, so was this bill really necessary? Supervisor Peskin says so, but the legislative analyst wasn’t so sure, writing: “It is unclear whether this bill would confer any additional authority to San Francisco beyond what it currently possesses.” AB 1184 is a cap, not a confirmation of the City’s right to tax, and it was a victory for Uber and Lyft.


  • And that explains why Uber and Lyft support this tax. Every flier, mailing, and poster advocating Yes on D has been paid for by Uber and Lyft. Every Yes on D argument in the voter pamphlet—all twelve of them—was paid for by Uber and Lyft. Why are they doing this? Because they believe the citizens of San Francisco are willing to tax them even more. The T2045 Task Force originally recommended a gross receipts tax of up to 0.975 percent, and a telephone survey showed that such a tax had 59 percent support. But Uber and Lyft didn’t like it. In exchange for a lower tax that they could pass on to passengers—and the benefit of AB 1184’s cap—Uber and Lyft agreed to support Prop. D. Uber and Lyft helped write this law. The citizens of San Francisco are being asked to help them.


We believe Prop. D confers legitimacy on Uber and Lyft, who are bent on destroying public transportation as much as destroying taxis. In an Orwellian twist, it makes them appear to be part of the solution when in truth they are a major cause of the problem, and they will remain so. Uber and Lyft got a cap on the tax, but we want a cap on the number of Ubers and Lyfts. We can do better than this. VOTE NO ON PROP. D.

Uber/Lyft Release Their Own Study on Congestion

Uber and Lyft have finally admitted that they add to congestion. The two companies hired transportation consultancy firm Fehr & Peers to examine how much they contribute to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). The resulting report, issued on August 6, examines VMT in six cities during one month last year, September 2018, and compares VMT by Ubers and Lyfts to the total VMT in each area. The study finds that Uber and Lyft vehicles are greatly out-numbered by personal and commercial vehicles, but they still produce significant shares of VMT, especially in San Francisco. You can read the report here.

The diagram below, from the study, shows the utilization rate for Ubers and Lyfts, combined. In San Francisco, they are driving without passengers approximately 40% of the time, 30% while waiting for a ride request and an additional 10% while driving to pick up a passenger.

TNC VMT by PhaseSource: Melissa Balding, Teresa Whinery, Eleanor Leshner and Eric Womeldorff, Fehr & Peers, "Estimated TNC Share of VMT in Six US Metropolitan Regions (Revision 1),", August 6, 2019, accessed August 24, 2019.


Rally at City Hall, Thursday, January 24th, 12:30 pm

Press Conference, 1:00 pm

Protest the MTA's unfair SFO taxi pickup plan!

SFTWA is co-sponsoring a rally and press conference at City Hall this Thursday, Jan. 24, at 12:30 p.m., in opposition to the MTA’s unfair SFO taxi pickup plan.

We will be calling upon Mayor London Breed to stop this disastrous plan from going forward.

The plan is intended to help holders of purchased medallions. They should be helped, but not at the expense of other drivers. We call on the City of San Francisco to buy back purchased medallions, allow ALL cabs and drivers to pick up at SFO, AND take back our streets from Uber and Lyft!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24th at 12:30 pm at CITY HALL

Come on foot or in your cab! Fill the streets!
Fight this plan!
Demand better!

Protest the Medallion Plan: Tuesday, January 15, 1 pm at City Hall

Come to the SFMTA Board Meeting and tell the Directors what you think about their new "compromise" regulations for pickups at SFO, scheduled to go into effect on February 1st. The new plan will:

  • Ban cabs operating under pre-Prop K medallions from picking up at the airport (259 cabs).
  • Ban 8000-numbered cabs and spare cabs from picking up at the airport.
  • Force cabs operating under Prop K medallions to back-of-the-line, second-class status for pickups (569 cabs).
  • Give cabs operating under purchased medallions “quick access” for pickups (558 cabs).
  • Give ramp taxis "quick access" for pickups if they meet wheelchair pickup goals. 


Yes, quicker access at SFO for purchased medallions could help those drivers and medallion holders, but the extra money they earn will come out of the pockets of other cab drivers. All cab drivers are hurting. None of us can afford to subsidize other drivers.

The SFMTA created the mess we’re in.  It needs to step up and help drivers who purchased medallions, but this is not the way. Don't let them divide us! Don't ban taxis from SFO! Don't make taxis wait so long that it is effectively a ban! All cabs and cab drivers deserve equal access to SFO!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 15th at 1:00 pm at CITY HALL, ROOM 400.

We will speak during Public Comments, Agenda Item No. 9.

Our Demands.

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Refund the purchase price for sold medallions and let the medallion holders keep them for life.
  • Guarantee that there are no more foreclosures due to hardship.
  • Allow all taxis and taxi drivers to pickup at SFO.
  • Allow individual Pre-K medallion holders to keep their medallions for life.
  • Take back our streets by regulating Uber and Lyft!


Labor Supports Us

As a San Francisco Labor Council affiliate, we submitted a resolution for the Council’s consideration in November. On November 26, 2018, the Labor Council unanimously adopted the resolution, calling on the MTA Board of Directors to repeal the so-called “Taxi Medallion Reform” that they approved in October. And even more, calling on the City and County of San Francisco to refund the purchase price of medallions instead.  We are encouraged to have their full support in our efforts to help all medallion holders and cab drivers.

Read the San Francisco Labor Council Resolution here.

Our Statement on the SFMTA’s Medallion Reform Proposal

The taxi system in San Francisco is in crisis. Because of the unrestricted proliferation of Ubers and Lyfts, taxi drivers have suffered devastating declines in their incomes. While all drivers are in financial distress, taxi drivers who purchased medallions are suffering the most. Almost 25 per cent of purchased medallion holders—working taxi drivers, mostly immigrants—have had their loans foreclosed, their credit damaged, and their dreams shattered. Many want to sell their medallions, but there are no buyers.

The Medallion Sales Program experiment has failed.

The City of San Francisco killed it.

In 2010, the SFMTA ended the voter-approved Proposition K medallion system, which mandated that medallions were not to be bought and sold, but granted for a nominal fee to taxi drivers who put their names on a Waiting List and earned medallions through years of sweat equity. In its place, the SFMTA enacted a pilot program selling medallions to taxi drivers for $250,000.

In the spring of 2012, before the Medallion Sales Program became permanent, Sidecar and Lyft began operating in San Francisco, using a smart phone app that connected passengers with drivers using their personal cars—clearly providing taxi services without complying with taxi regulations. The city made no effort to prohibit their operations or to regulate them. Edward D. Reiskin, Director of Transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, explained that the SFMTA took no action because “it. . . was fairly clear that city hall didn’t want us to step in and do so.”[1] Thus, the agency that had been set up to be independent of political influence took its direction from City Hall.

Because of this deliberate inaction, a state agency, the California Public Utilities Commission, declared it had jurisdiction, preempted local control, and adopted lax regulations for what they called a new form of transportation service: Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs.

Backed by millions in venture capital funding, and free from local regulation, Uber and Lyft have priced their rides below cost and flooded the streets of San Francisco with vehicles to ensure quick pick-up times and gain market share over taxis.

The SFMTA sold approximately 720 medallions, raising over $60 million from working taxi drivers to close a budget shortfall caused by the 2009-2010 recession, to the benefit of the City and County and the people of San Francisco.

The SFMTA has not sold a taxi medallion since April 2016, and the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which financed the medallion loans, has sued the agency for breach of contract.

The SFMTA wants taxi drivers to pay for the mess they made.

Now, the SFMTA has issued another “Taxi Medallion Reform” proposal, shirking their responsibility for the mess they made, and asking taxi drivers to pay for it.

First, the SFMTA proposes to help purchased medallion holders by allowing only taxis licensed with a purchased medallion to pick up at SFO, banning more than half of the taxi fleet from working at the airport and creating classes of taxis with different privileges. This proposal pits driver against driver, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Thousands of taxi drivers will be denied a crucial means of earning a living. Many drivers are likely to quit, reducing the number of taxis serving The City, and harming those who rely on taxi service the most, our senior citizens and disabled community. It will turn The City over to Uber and Lyft!

Second, the SFMTA proposes that medallions purchased before Proposition K was enacted, known as Pre-K medallions, not be renewed, permanently depriving medallion holders who have followed all regulations, and who have done nothing wrong, of their medallions and the income derived from them. The SFMTA’s rationale: Pre-K medallion holders have held their medallions for at least forty years, and over that period, their medallions have earned them money enough. What other city license would be revoked for reasons like these? Taking these cabs off the streets will mean less service at busy times when they’re most needed.

Third, the SFMTA proposes eliminating the requirement that only working taxi drivers are eligible to buy medallions, and allowing corporations and other investors to purchase up to 50 medallions, taking medallions out of the hands of working taxi drivers. This proposal is a desperate ploy to save the failed Medallion Sales Program, and the SFMTA has cynically omitted from their presentation the fact the first medallions sold will be the foreclosed ones—not those currently held by struggling taxi drivers, giving false hope to many. But who will now buy a medallion for $250,000?

Our Demands.

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Refund the purchase price for sold medallions and let the medallion holders keep them for life.
  • Guarantee that there are no more foreclosures due to hardship.
  • Allow all taxis and taxi drivers to pickup at SFO.
  • Allow individual Pre-K medallion holders to keep their medallions for life.
  • Prohibit future medallion sales.
  • And issue medallions only to working taxi drivers—not to corporations and investors.


And finally, the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance calls on the City and County of San Francisco to:

  • Take back our streets by regulating Uber and Lyft!


Click for a printable PDF version of Our Statement.

[1] Dewey, Onesimo Flores and Lisa Rayle, “Commercial Ride-Sharing: From Rogue to Mainstream in San Francisco,” in Transforming Urban Transport (Oxford University Press, 2018), 109.


  • Featured press release

    SFTWA White Paper

    January 06, 2015
    Contact: Sftwa Admin


    PRESS RELEASE 1/6/14
    SFTWA Calls on S.F. to Regulate Ride Services like UberX and Lyft

    Who: The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA)
    What: Press conference
    Where: Front steps of City Hall, 1 Carlton B. GoodLett Place, San Francisco, CA When: Tuesday, January 6 at 12 noon

    The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) will hold a press
    conference at City Hall on Jan. 6 at noon to announce the release of a White Paper urging San Francisco to regulate “ride services” like UberX and Lyft and enforce against violations of law by those services and their drivers. DeSoto Cab is also a signatory to the document.

    The White Paper describes the city’s authority under state law to regulate these services (which are also called “TNCs”). Among the reasons why the city should exercise that authority are:

    • To protect public safety

    • To prevent insurance fraud

    • To ensure compliance with disabilities laws

    • To preserve the environment

    • To allow cab drivers to earn a livable income

    • To offset the city’s costs owing to TNC operations and require them to pay their

      fair share toward city revenues

      “The state has not done its job in regulating services like UberX and Lyft,” said SFTWA Executive Board member Barry Korengold. “Unless the city steps in the public will not be properly protected, congestion will continue to increase and the quality of service to taxi riders will suffer.”

      Speakers will include Tim Paulson, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council; attorney Christopher Dolan, who represents the family of Sophia Liu, killed by an Uber driver in San Francisco; and disabled community activist Bob Planthold.

      The SFTWA has over 600 members and is affiliated with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, AFL-CIO.


    Contacts: Mark Gruberg [email protected] / Barry Korengold [email protected]


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