Taxi services

Claims department dealing with complaints about unlicensed taxi services

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Kincardine Bylaws Enforcement is currently investigating complaints about unlicensed taxi services being offered in the municipality.

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“We don’t allow any type of carpooling,” Clerk and Legislative Services Manager Jennifer Lawrie said in a Sept. 7 phone interview, adding that a fine wouldn’t necessarily be the first step if someone was caught. . “We try to work with people to get them to get a license,” she said.

According to Lawrie, Fred’s Cabs and TJ’s Taxi are the only two companies licensed to provide taxi service in Kincardine. She said ride-sharing programs, such as Lyft and Uber, are not currently operating in the area.

Licensed operators must hold a valid municipal taxi driver’s license to operate taxis, limousines or other vehicle rental services.

Fred Whittington, owner of Fred’s Cabs, said illegal taxis compound the problems he faces in an already difficult industry.

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“I’ve had complaints from drivers about it,” Whittington said, explaining that some fares end up being poached by an unlicensed taxi, while a licensed taxi is on the way. “Drivers buy their own fuel. If they pick someone up and that person left with someone else, (the driver) loses that money.

According to the municipality, obtaining a taxi license requires the vehicle and driver to meet criteria, including possession of valid car insurance, obtaining a vehicle safety check every two years , possession of a valid Ontario driver’s license and completion of a Vulnerable Persons Access Check.

Whittington said the cost of running a legitimate taxi business is so high – between insurance, vehicle maintenance and fuel – that it’s hard to compete with someone offering the same service without answering. to the same strict requirements. He said running costs had skyrocketed since the pandemic.

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Whittington said it could no longer afford to operate around the clock, leaving a service void that unlicensed taxis take advantage of.

“It’s not won,” he said, noting that the municipality should crack down on those operating illegally.

Whittington said he also struggled to hire additional drivers because insurance companies wouldn’t cover inexperienced drivers.

“They want two years of experience as a commercial driver,” he said. “It is impossible for a person with commercial experience to drive a taxi. There just isn’t enough money in it.

He asked, “How do pizza delivery drivers and Uber do it?”

Whittington said subsidizing the cost of insurance could be another option for the municipality to help those operating legally maintain their businesses.

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“I’m a private company, so I can complain (about the situation), but that’s about it,” he said.

According to Whittington, the majority of his fares are senior citizens who he believes could end up falling through the cracks.

“We give a lot of discounts to seniors,” he said. “Ninety percent of my rates are seniors on fixed incomes.

Whittington noted discussions of adding a bus route, but he said that would not help some of his customers who need more personalized service.

“My drivers go out of their way to help people,” he said, noting that many older people need more than just a ride.

“They need help with shopping,” he said as an example.

Whittington suggested the municipality could consider buying the vehicles themselves and contracting them out as a possible solution. He said taxi companies could be a thing of the past.

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“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said. “I saw him descending slowly.”

The municipality warns the public against hiring taxis without a license.

“The biggest risk,” Lawrie said in a Sept. 7 press release, “is that if the driver has an accident with you as a passenger, their insurance may not cover you. There is also the risk of getting into a stranger’s car. Human trafficking is a key component of Bruce and Gray’s community safety and well-being planning.

According to Lawrie, licensed taxis are easy to spot in Kincardine because they have a dome light identifying the vehicle as a taxi, the interior contains a meter, and driver identification is displayed. inside the vehicle.

For more information on taxi licensing requirements, visit kincardine.ca/TaxiLicence.

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