Friday, January 16, 2009

How are cabs fare-ing during the OC Transpo strike?

Last week, I asked a taxi driver how the strike was affecting his business. The logical conclusion was that it was booming, right? Less buses means more people in cabs. His answer was the opposite, though. There is more traffic, he said, and it bogs down the cabs and means they can pick up less fares.

One of my friends recalled a nearly identical line from another cab. Interesting. What my driver didn't mention was another issue facing legitimate cab companies in Ottawa: bandit taxis.

Almost a month ago, TransitOttawa.ca linked to a story suggesting that the City was cracking down on illegal cab drivers. That story quotes Linda Anderson, Ottawa's manager of bylaw enforcement, as saying such cabs are unsafe and need to be reined in.

On Day 38 of the OC Transpo strike, so-called bandit cabs haven't gone away. The Ottawa Citizen reports today that underground taxis apparently account for 25 per cent of all cabs in the city during normal times, and that, during the strike, that number could rise to 30 per cent. One illegal company, the report says, could "employ" as many as 50 drivers.

The story also says that, according to taxi union boss Yusef Al Mezel, Anderson is the only full-time bylaw officer working on the file. Al Mezel represents 1,500 cabbies who are members of the Canadian Auto Workers.

Here is a reminder of how much money is at stake, in this excerpt from the Citizen story:

Last July, a court slapped an illegal operator with a $56,250 fine, the highest ever, after a five-month investigation resulted in 112 charges against 80 individuals.

In 2006, the city put a dent in the bandit industry when it charged 26 people with 107 offences. As part of its investigation, it found records that one company was pulling in about $300,000 a year.

2 comments:

sa said...

I got an identical line from a cabbie as well. He said he was taking about 60% of the fares he would normally, and spending half his time stuck in traffic.

Not to add that it is regularly taking an hour and a half to two hours to get a cab in the 'burbs.

Anonymous said...

The bus strike was an awful thing. Check out www.taxime.ca though. A lot of people used this site to estimate their cab fare during the strike.