Taxi drivers

Gas prices another blow to long-suffering taxi drivers

“I’ve seen gas prices go up, up, up, so my cars have gone down, down in size.”

Content of the article

Since he started driving a taxi in Ottawa, Amrinder Malhi’s driving life has been rocked by global forces: first the Uber invasion, then the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, exorbitant gasoline prices.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

Earlier this year, Malhi said, he used to put about $35 worth of gas in his taxi during a typical shift, but now it’s more like $60: money coming out of his pocket. since drivers pay their own fuel costs.

Taxi fares rose 10% in the City of Ottawa last week – the first fare increase in 12 years – in recognition of the extraordinary burden of rising gas prices.

Most gas stations in Ottawa were charging just over $2 a liter on Saturday. Gasoline prices have jumped more than 20% since February due to increased demand and supply disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Malhi says the new meter tariffs ease the pain a bit. Customers, he said, have been friendly.

“People know what the price of gasoline is, what we pay. People actually get it,” said Malhi, who started driving a taxi after immigrating to Canada from India’s Punjab region. He drives 12 to 14 hours a day to make ends meet and support his wife and two children.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

Amrinder Malhi says the new meter rates recently approved by the city ease the pain of higher fuel costs a bit.  Customers, he added, have been friendly.
Amrinder Malhi says the new meter rates recently approved by the city ease the pain of higher fuel costs a bit. Customers, he added, have been friendly. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

“For two and a half years I was at home during the pandemic,” he said. “So I’m happy to be working again, even with the petrol prices. Now business is better. I think it’s getting better. »

Blue Line driver Gursewak Singh Malhi said the new meter fares did not compensate drivers for all the money they had lost due to rising petrol prices, a problem compounded by higher insurance premiums and higher prices on new cars.

“Every gesture counts,” he said.

He now drives a hybrid Toyota Prius in an effort to reduce his overhead. The hybrid replaced a four-cylinder, which replaced a six-cylinder, which replaced an eight-cylinder.

“I’ve seen gas prices go up, up, up,” said Malhi, who has been driving professionally for more than 20 years, “so my cars have gone down, down in size. We need a big trunk , lots of space for our customers, but we still need an economical car.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Taxi driver Joseph Keyourz works eight to ten hours a day, seven days a week, to earn a living. He fills up his Honda Civic every other day for about $80.

“It’s been tough for us since 2020 and the pandemic, but now with gas prices it’s crazy,” he said.

The pandemic has been particularly difficult for drivers in Ottawa, Keyourz said, because it’s a government town and many officials continue to work from home.

“It’s a ghost town in times of a pandemic,” he said. “People are coming back to town, but with the price of gas, nothing is easy.

Veteran taxi driver Gursewak Singh Malhi now drives a hybrid Toyota Prius in a bid to reduce his overhead.  The hybrid replaced a four-cylinder, which replaced a six-cylinder, which replaced an eight-cylinder.
Veteran taxi driver Gursewak Singh Malhi now drives a hybrid Toyota Prius in a bid to reduce his overhead. The hybrid replaced a four-cylinder, which replaced a six-cylinder, which replaced an eight-cylinder. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

In March, ride-sharing services such as Uber also introduced surcharges on the price of gas for rides. Uber maintains a 50 cent surcharge on each ride to help its drivers offset fuel costs.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

The temporary fees are designed to reduce the burden of high gas prices, not fully cover the cost, Liza Winship, Uber’s manager of driver operations, said in a press release. Winship said Uber is also trying to help drivers switch to electric vehicles by offering incentives of up to $4,000 a year and negotiating special discounts on the purchase price of vehicles.

In February, Ottawa’s largest taxi company, Coventry Connections, and its largest taxi union, Unifor Local Lodge 1688, sent a joint letter to the city asking for a fare increase.

Union president Amrik Singh told the city’s community and protective services committee that current economic conditions make it “very, very, very difficult” to operate a taxi in Ottawa. “Gasoline is more expensive, insurance is more expensive, cars are more expensive,” he told committee members.

According to new taxi fares approved by the city council, the cost of a 10 kilometer taxi ride is now $24.42, up from $21.78.

Advertisement 1

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.