In strangely intro-to-creative-writing fashion, today's New York Times editorial page spent 250-odd words celebrating the New York experience that is the taxi ride. "Reverie in Yellow" begins thusly:
Most New Yorkers depend on public transportation. And when it is suspended — as it was during Hurricane Irene — we realize just how much we need it. But there are times when, if you can afford it, only a taxi will do. You raise your arm, a cab pulls over, and off you go. Sometimes it occurs to you that if you raised an arm at the curb on most of the streets in America, nothing would happen. Someone might wave, but that's about it.
From there it devolves into further fawning over the city atmosphere. Much to the point of actual news is Bloomberg.com's report on Wednesday that New York City taxi medallions are now worth more than gold.
The cost of a New York City taxicab license has increased more than 1,000 percent since 1980. The individual 'medallion'—the transferable aluminum plate found on the hood of all cabs—sold for $678,000 in July, according to data compiled from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, up from $2,500 in 1947.
New York taxi medallion prices rose about eight percent annually between 1980 and 2011, outpacing inflation, gold, oil, and home prices.
Medallions are clearly worth it to the cabbies who manage to acquire them, but the list of regulations and terms dealing with how one becomes and keeps a New York City taxi medallion is long indeed.
The Times is pleased at the apparently unique ability of New Yorkers to raise their arm and have a car appear, but there's a whole bureaucratic, tightly-controlled market behind that gesture.
Reason.tv recently did a piece on attempts by Washington D.C. politicians to fix what isn't broken and enact a medallion system in the city.