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The meter is running: New York cab medallion sells for $1 million

October 21, 2011 |  7:46 am

Two New York City taxi medallions sold for $1 million each
There is gold, and now there is investing in a New York City taxi medallion.

Two medallions -- aluminum plates that grant the right to operate a cab -- were sold this week for $1 million each, according to the New York Times. The last time these two traded hands was in the 1980s, and they went for $80,000 each.

All 13,237 cabs in the city must have a medallion nailed to their hood. The value of that piece of metal has soared with the fortunes of the city -- and soared higher than even the value of gold.

"It's a lot of money, and it is an investment that someone would not make without being confident in the industry and the future of the city," David S. Yassky, chairman of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission told the New York Times.

New York issues two types of medallions. The ones that were sold this week are corporate medallions, which owners are allowed to lease to drivers for 24 hours a day. A second type of medallion -- used in about 40% of the city's cab fleet -- must be used by the owner a significant part of the time and is worth a bit less. The last sale of one of those brought about $700,000, the New York Times said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg would like to create a third tier of medallions for the outer boroughs, and it's no surprise that that big cab companies are opposed to this move -- or anything that would increase the number of cabs and devalue their ownership of multiple medallions.

In 1937, when New York first issued medallions, the price was $10.

The broker who handled this week's million-dollar transactions is Nate Goldbetter -- yup, that’s his name. He recalled that when he handled the sale of the first $100,000 medallion in 1985, the news appeared on the front page of the New York Times.

"It's kind of history repeating itself, only multiplied by 10," Goldbetter told the paper.


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Photo: A man gets into a cab outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. There are more than 13,000 medallion taxis in New York City. Credit: Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images