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Taxi drivers seek mayor’s help with looming airport pickup ban

Taxi drivers on Thursday will ask to speak with San Francisco Mayor London Breed about a decision by The City’s transit agency that is expected to put 60 percent of the drivers out of work, according to advocates.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has banned effective Feb. 1 drivers with legacy medallions from picking up people at San Francisco International Airport.

Yellow Cab Co. CEO Chris Sweis said many drivers have said that if they cannot pick up at the airport it is not worth it to drive. Charles Rathbone, a director of the San Francisco Taxi Coalition, an advocacy group, said drivers are asking the mayor to intervene and form a working group to look at taxi issues.

Taxi drivers have been impacted severely by the rise of Uber and Lyft, which have not been appropriately regulated, according to some taxi drivers.

The taxi industry in San Francisco is divided into primarily two groups of drivers. Forty percent purchased their medallions while 60 percent are so-called legacy drivers, Sweis said.

The drivers who purchased their medallions are having a difficult time making payments on the loans they took out to buy the medallions. Sweis and Rathbone said the SFMTA decision favors those drivers, who will be able to pick up passengers at the airport, while putting the legacy drivers out of business.

Rathbone, who’s spent 45 years in the industry, said:

“We’re sure hoping to have that talk with Mayor Breed.”

A spokesman for the city’s transit agency could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

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