• Wed. Nov 16th, 2022

St. John’s aims to make fares fair for taxi drivers

ST. JOHN’S, NL – It will soon cost you more to take a cab in the capital.

At its Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday morning, Nov. 3, at City Hall, St. John’s City Council agreed to recommend up to 25 percent taxi fare increases.

This means that the flag rate (for sitting in the cab), HST included, will drop from $ 3.75 to $ 4.50. The distance rate will drop from $ 2 (one tenth of a mile) to $ 2.50 (one eighth of a mile), while wait times will drop from $ 32.50 per hour to $ 40.50 per hour. time.

Final approval will be given at an upcoming regular council meeting once the change to the bylaw on taxis has been revised.

This will be the first increase in taxi fares in St. John’s since 2011.

Although taxi fares are revised from time to time by the council at the request of the industry, the discussion comes after the taxi companies (City Wide, Bugden’s, Newfound, Jiffy and Independent), which account for around 95% One hundred of all taxi licenses, have been approached the city to ask for the increase in fares.

Taxi owners have pointed to the rise in gasoline prices and a 200% increase in insurance over the past decade.

“The cost of operating a taxi has skyrocketed,” Coun said. said Maggie Burton. “So it has become much more difficult to make a living as a taxi driver in this city. “

Com. Ophelia Ravencroft said the issue of taxi fares has been brought to her attention countless times.

“I’m well aware of the extent of the damage this could cause to low-income people who depend on taxis, which until recently included me. As far as I know the point is that unfortunately we are in a situation where taxis are unable to make a living. I’ve heard of (drivers) who used to bring home wads of cash that make $ 40 a day, ”Ravencroft said.

“I think this is a positive step. So this is something that I am happy to support. Hopefully this will ease the burden on a number of people I have spoken with who I think really, really needed something like this to happen.

Com. Ron Ellsworth said rising operating costs aren’t the only issue taxi drivers face – people advertising the availability of rides on social media are also a problem.

“We have moonlight workers who also operate in the city who pay no fees, who don’t face the same cost to do business as the licensed drivers and that certainly makes it very difficult for the industry as well. from the cab, ”Ellsworth said.

“We are challenged with this. … So there are other factors that we should also help with… to try to help the men and women who are trying to make a living here as well.

Com. Ron Ellsworth (left) told St. John’s City Council in plenary on Wednesday, November 3 that people offering rides on social media are causing trouble for people in the struggling taxi industry to stay in business. Looking on is Coun. Sandy Hickman. – Contributed

The city’s role in the taxi industry is to ensure that vehicles are licensed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as taxis in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act; that taxis have valid inspection certificates from licensed garages recognized by the province; that the vehicles have appropriate insurance coverage; that the taxi permit decals are correctly affixed to the vehicle; that the taximeters are correctly calibrated; and set maximum taxi fares.

Mayor Danny Breen stressed that the provincial government needs to be part of the discussion, as most taxi laws are provincial.

“This is an important issue for St. John’s. It is an important economic development issue. It is important to move people around the city. It’s an important mode of transportation, ”said Breen, adding that the proposed increase in taxi fares reflects what the fare for transportation would have been over the past decade based on the Consumer Price Index.

“We have to take a look at it, but we don’t control a lot of the issues that are involved in it. So, this is a discussion that will have to take place very soon.

Breen and Burton agreed it was important to also consult with taxi company owners before the fare change was finalized.

“We want to let everyone know that we are aware that the problem with taxis in the city needs to be addressed,” said Burton, “that there are several issues that we need to talk about and that should not be considered. as the one and only time we will be talking about taxis this year.

“I think the board will have a little more to say over time, but this is our first step right now to get the ball rolling and get more money out of (the drivers’) pockets.”