• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

Kelowna taxi drivers decry airport fees – Okanagan

ByElla E. Kidwell

Oct 21, 2022

Several Kelowna taxi drivers are speaking out against user fees that have been added to every trip they take to YLW International airport.

Since July of last year, taxi drivers in Kelowna have been charging an additional $2 each time they pick up or drop off a customer at the airport. Although the fee has been beneficial to drivers’ operating costs, many tell Global News that the additional fee is not suitable for many taxi users in the city.

“They always say ‘this is ridiculous’ and they’ve never seen this kind of accusation anywhere,” said Sam Bansal, a taxi driver from Kelowna.

“It really angers customers every time we have to explain it.”

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“They think we’re ripping them off, trying to make an extra $2, and that saddens me,” driver Fred Guigue said. “I don’t appreciate the fact that I, as a taxi driver, have to be a tax collector for the city.”

They say some customers are so fed up with the extra charges that they go after the drivers themselves for not tipping.

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“A lot of customers think this is some kind of tax grab on the airport,” taxi driver Lorraine Worsnop said. “Customers don’t tip either because they have to pay the fee.”

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Geoff Ritchie, senior manager of airport development at YLW, says the extra charge is a good thing for taxi drivers.

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“If you operate ground transportation, you have to come and get a license,” he explained. “A license would cost you $638. Now what we’re saying is the license costs $50 and then you add a $2 travel charge to that to recoup the rest of the cost.

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Ritchie added that the same rules would apply to any other transportation company that receives permission to operate in Kelowna in the future.

“It’s a level playing field for all ground transportation,” Ritchie said.

“Let’s say someone who, like Uber, is a part-time driver and it might not be so affordable to pay the higher upfront fee. Well now they have a cheaper option for the do, a more affordable option to do so, and they can still recover.

While Kelowna taxi drivers save $588 on their initial taxi license fee to pick up passengers at the airport, they are even more concerned about the customer.

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And the costs per passenger add up. Revenue generated from the fee is collected by YLW once a month from each individual driver.

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“I know I pay over $50 a week in airport fees,” Guigue said. “So that’s $200 for a single driver per month, and over $2,000 per year. That’s a lot of money.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.