Taxi situation cannot continue

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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.

 

Corporate connections

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?

Think again.

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.

 

Joe White

Co-Op taxi, St. John’s

Organizations: The Telegram, Joe White Co-Op

Geographic location: George Street

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Recent comments

  • Adam
    April 26, 2014 - 11:44

    Aren't the meter rates that consumers have to pay already extremely high? I don't know much about the taxi industry beyond that but I just think it will be hard to rally much support from the population about this issue. Pretty much everyone I know in NL says that they never take a taxi unless they have no choice. And I have lived around here my whole life. Just my thoughts anyhow. I'm not really defending one side or the other.

  • Keep at em
    April 25, 2014 - 13:08

    Taxi Drivers are ambassadors to visitors. Tourist is a bIg deal when govt wants to spend/give our money away, but not when it comes to giving up a tax grab to foster it.Bdubs is correct in a way. Then, no one is forcing him to be a prick either. We all make our choices, even MHAs. The new breed of MHA is groundless and can be brainwashed into respecting taxi drivers for their contribution. Keep at it Joe.

  • Bdubs
    April 25, 2014 - 10:30

    Boohoo joe white! No one forced you to be a taxi driver! Perhaps instead of sulking about not making ends meat you should have chosen a career path that you dont have to work 70 hrs/week! Its no ones fault but your own that you decided to take this career path. Instead of sulking via a computer maybe you should update your resume and your skills and find something that allows you to earn a better income! Sorry buddy but clearly i am not coming to your pitty party. You have yourself to blame for your choices!