In my previous letters to the editor, I stated that the majority of taxi brokers in St. John’s (and likely across the whole province) are being financially beaten to death with increasing costs.
The bleeding has got to stop sometime. Now is that time.
During the last snowstorm three weeks ago my taxi suffered a major breakdown. Including the cost of repairs and my downtime, I was out well over $3,000.
Fortunately, I was able to rely on credit cards to get me through, while the vast majority of brokers in St. John’s do not have that option. What are they to do?
It will take me a minimum of three to six months to recover the $3,000. I already work 70 hours per week. How do you think I will accomplish that feat?
No EI, no workers’ compensation
Here’s something else you need to know: taxi brokers (and drivers) are not eligible for employment insurance or workers’ compensation benefits should we find ourselves unable to work for some unfortunate reason.
What options do we have should we find ourselves in that situation?
I don’t think I need to spell it out for you.
There’s a very good reason why we don’t qualify for those benefits — we can’t afford to pay the premiums because the meter rates are too low, and there’s too many taxis in St. John’s diluting our meagre incomes.
There’s only two options to solve our financial crisis: either the city retires a large chunk of taxi licences (unlikely to happen), or the meter rates have to go up substantially to allow us to earn a living wage.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many taxis parked on George Street on any given night? How about all the taxis parked at the airport on any given day? Take a few seconds someday to figure it out.
Did you know stand owner Peter Gulliver pays a hefty premium for the privilege of parking all those City Wide taxis at the airport; likely hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
It’s not Peter Gulliver’s fault you’re charged extra when you get in a taxi at the airport; it’s the airport authority’s fault. They set the rates, not Peter.
Taxi owners are being overcharged by large corporate entities, and we’re all (including owners, brokers, drivers and consumers) suffering financially as a result.
And then, of course, there’s all the malls and large hotels in the city. Do you think they allow taxis to park there out of the goodness of their large corporate hearts?
Owners are charged tens of thousands of dollars every year for the privilege and those costs are being downloaded to brokers in the form of increased stand rents.
The tide is changing.
It was just last year Peter Gulliver was hit with an outrageous, annual invoice from the owners of the Avalon Mall.
They must think Peter just fell off the turnip truck. I’ve known Peter a long time and he must have peed in his pants with laughter when he tore it up.
That’s why you see all those multi-coloured taxis at the mall these days. I’ll have more to say next week if The Telegram will allow me the privilege. I have to go.
As I write this, it’s Good Friday and, unfortunately, I have to go to work, yet again, to try and recover my $3,000.
I hope you enjoy your fish and chips.
Co-Op taxi, St. John’s