By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is now one step closer to having wheelchair-accessible taxicabs available.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority, which oversees taxi operations in the city, today adopted rules for the taxis and for auctioning off the medallions to operate them.
A lot of money will be on the line in that auction. This is the first time the PPA will issue medallions since taking over taxi regulation in 2001, and the price of a medallion has soared to a half-million dollars — though Dennis Weldon, the PPA’s staff attorney, says the handicapped medallions may not get that much.
“Bidders will take into consideration the fact that they’re going to need to buy newer vehicles that may require more money to equip to put on the street,” he notes (see related story).
Weldon says the Parking Authority will set a minimum price and accept sealed bids for a total of 45 medallions.
Conrad Owiny, a former driver, warned the PPA board that such high prices create a danger that only large fleet owners — he called them “oligarchs” — will be able to bid, leaving ordinary drivers out.
“The oligarchs are going to manipulate it the way they want to,” he said.
Officials say the auction won’t be held before September.