CORNER BROOK David Jones says his weekly pay can decrease by as much as $100 due to increasing expenses.
The only resolve to the escalating expenses of operating a taxi is to increase the fare, says the City Cab driver. The rising cost of expenses — including gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance — is money directly out of a driver’s pocket.
“You can go from making $250 a week to making $150 a week,” Jones said Wednesday, the day following an approved hike for taxi operators in St. John’s. “It is getting more and more difficult.”
He says local cab drivers should follow St. John’s operators, and seek approval for a rate increase from city council.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It seems like the last few years gas has been going up and up and up, and the rate hasn’t gone up in years in Corner Brook.”
The last rate increase for taxi operators in Corner Brook was in 2008, and that was not what they had been seeking.
At the time, drivers from the various city companies requested a rate hike in four areas of the taxi service. Cabbies wanted to raise the meter drop rate from $3 to $3.60, rise the per kilometre rate from $1.50 to $1.65 and the charge for waiting time from $25 to $30.
Following a review by city staff, council maintained the meter drop rate at $3, increased the fare to $1.54 per kilometre and the waiting time charge to $26. The charge for handling packages remained at $1.
The actual starting fare on the meter is $3.40, which includes HST. Jones said the fare should increase to approximately $4.
He expects cab drivers throughout the city will come together again to submit a proposal to council. He anticipates that happening sometime in the spring, but said nothing has been scheduled yet.
Jones said he discusses the need for a rate increase with his customers, and said there is a lot of public support for it.
“I would say about 85 per cent agree that it should be more,” he said. “We are taking a great risk running people around, especially in these (winter) conditions. If we have a bump or scrape, our insurance goes up, and gas is always going up, and we have no control over it.”
Meanwhile, Corner Brook Mayor Neville Greeley said he would not be surprised if council received a proposal to raise the rates for taxi services. Staff would review such a proposal and put a recommendation before council, who would ultimately decide what actions to take, if any.
“We would certainly do our homework, and we have to try to be fair to the taxi drivers as well, because you can’t be operating a business and losing money,” he said. “With the cost of repairs, the cost of gas, and the cost of everything else these days … I think it was (2008) when they had their last increase, so it has been quite some time.”
However, a balance has to be struck with the consumer, agreed the mayor.
“There has to be a justification for it and comparisons within the industry, taking into account economic situations in the area they are operating,” he said. “We will go through the process, if and when we receive a request.”