Taxi drivers protest PPA budget hikes

If you listen closely enough, even now, you can still hear the honking.

A line of taxi cabs circled around City Hall about 11 this morning and blared their horns incessantly for what seemed like a small portion of forever.

The aim wasn't to drive pedestrians and passersby to madness -- it was to protest the Philadelphia Parking Authority's proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, which would levy a bevy of increased fees on taxi cab owners and drivers, according to Ronald Blount, the president of the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania.

"We organized the protest. The PPA is hurting our drivers' ability to make a living," said Blount, whose union represents 1,200 drivers in the city.

Blount said the 2013 budget for the PPA's Taxi and Limousine  Division would allow the agency to charge drivers $200 to physically transfer the rooftop medallions from an old cab to a new one.

The budget would also raise the medallion transfer fee -- which cab owners pay when they sell their medallions -- from 2 percent to 5 percent, said Jeff Hornstein, the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Taxi Association.

If a medallion owner sold his medallion for $400,000 -- which Hornstein said is not far-fetched -- the owner would have to pay the PPA $20,000.

The PPA's proposed budget also calls increases in other medallion and certificate fees, Hornstein said.

Blount said his union will likely organize another protest next week.