Kingston taxi companies pushing back against rate hike

Kingston's local taxi providers are saying they won't comply with a recently passed rate hike, and are making it clear it's as unwanted by them as it is by customers.

At March 23's Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) Meeting, a schedule was passed that would see 40 percent increases to tariffs in the city.

In a statement, KATC Chair Ben Dowser said this increase is primarily about paying drivers more.

“This is not just about a fare or rate increase; it is about reinvesting in the good people who operate or own taxicabs and to help bring sustainability to the industry," Dowser said.

"Since the start of the pandemic, the taxi industry has been an essential service. The operators and owners have worked to ensure that they keep Kingston and Loyalist Township’s citizens safely moving, we thank you all for that.”

But a number of taxi drivers in the city responded unfavourably to the news.

Victor Hill, an Amey's Taxi driver said that if history is any indicator, this hike won't be helping drivers.

Hill said that when a similar hike was introduced in the 90s, he saw close to a 60% drop in income.

He said most drivers wanted somewhere from around a 10% increase to offset the rise in gas, and this increase will significantly cut into their customer base.

"People on fixed income and people that take us daily back and forth to work will no longer be able to take taxis," Hill said.

"I can only surmise that they think they were doing us a favor, thinking they knew more about the industry than those of us that work in it daily."

With inflation and gas prices soaring drivers and taxi companies agree that an increase is in order, the first since 2019, but by and large supported smaller increases.

Modern Taxi let customers know about the increase in March, encouraging them to give feedback and saying they voted in favour of a smaller increase.

On Monday, with new rates set to begin in Kingston, Amey's Taxi released an open letter opposing the fare increases.

Amey's President and Owner Mark Greenwood says in the statement that not only does the increase gouge customers, but it will spell the end of the taxi industry.

"The 40% increase was created by the commission on its own and the taxi industry fought against it, recognizing they were giving this industry a suicide pill," Greenwood's statement read.

"We are questioning the motives and the misinterpretation of the evidence they are using to support this position."

Greenwood says to that point that he himself signed a petition from the industry requesting a substantial raise, but that he and most other signatories thought that represented a 20% hike. 

He questioned the significance of the survey itself, which he says was a poll of under 120 members of the public, and said there is "no trust" between the commission and industry. 

Hill added that the commission clearly lacks any on the job experience, and needs to include someone with years of service in the industry.

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Initiative.

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  • Dinah Jansen
    published this page in News 2022-04-11 20:04:57 -0400