It's hard to ignore the allure and convenience ride-hailing start-ups like Uber have brought to the transportation industry. Apps allow consumers to reserve rides with the swipe of a button on a smartphone, with no cash required.
As valuations for major ride-hailing players including Lyft soar into the billions, the value of traditional taxicab medallions is declining. Medallions are city-issued licenses to operate cabs. But some New York City medallion owners are fighting back. They're trying to craft their own app solutions, albeit with mixed results, and working longer hours to pay the bills.
Just ask NYC medallion owner Safdar Iqbal.
He's working more to make ends meet. The Queens, New York-based driver bought his medallion for $570,000 in 2009. He needs to earn about $5,000 a month to break even on insurance, the medallion mortgage and industry fees. Iqbal earned extra income by leasing his car to a second driver who works the day shift.
"This was an investment in the long term," said Iqbal. Despite the challenges, the 48-year-old said he wants to make his NYC medallion work. "It would help me raise my family, take care of the kids, pay the rent and later on, work as my retirement."