One of St. John’s prominent cab companies is pulling out of the Taxi Alliance.
Derek Hayter, manager of Newfound Cabs, said the decision came following consideration of facts coming out of a meeting with Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin-Walsh on Friday.
“As a company we are satisfied the meeting was productive,” Hayter said, with similar word coming from Gambin-Walsh.
“We got the meeting, so we decided because they met with us and gave us some assurances, we would pull back on our job action for now,” he said.
Hayter said he went to the meeting after an assurance from the alliance that if they got a meeting with the minister, the job action would be removed, an action that threatened to have cabs pulled off the road for St. Patrick’s Day.
The Taxi Alliance was formed to lobby the government for several things, including a freeze of insurance rates, a rollback of the rate increases that occurred on March 1 and the removal of the 15 per cent tax on insurance.
Paddy’s Day taxi strike averted in St. John’s
Taxi owner says insurance hikes driving him out of industry
Hayter said the problems in the taxi industry are multi-facted and in order to fix them there has to be continued dialogue among all parties, the government and taxi companies.
“The Alliance seemed to be satisfied at the time coming out of the meeting, and then someone had an about face,” Hayter said.
“We as a company feel these issues will be addressed over time and the company decision was to remove ourselves from the alliance.”
Hayter said Newfound Cabs is in a precarious situation, as it has a host of contractual obligations, including operating accessible taxis. He said the demand for this service is huge, and Newfound Cabs makes about 25,000 runs a year in these vehicles alone.
Companies railed earlier this month against an 18.6 per cent increase in insurance rates in addition to a 30 per cent increase in third party liability insurance that was instituted in June 2017.
Taxi companies and drivers are covered under the only insurance option they have — Facility Association — that has been described as the last place to get insurance for anyone considered high risk.
Since 2013, insurance rates have risen by 113 per cent, and increases have occurred five times since then.
Hayter said meetings in the coming weeks with the minister will hopefully produce some answers and possible changes aimed at helping the industry.
Gambin-Walsh told reporters the meeting with the Taxi Alliance was a good meeting, but she’s now waiting on a report from the Public Utilities Board specific to insurance for the taxi industry. She said she plans to meet again with industry representatives once the report is in hand.
At the same time, the report will be paired with information coming from a separate, ongoing review of vehicle insurance rates, Gambin-Walsh said.
“Both those reports together, with of course the consultations that are happening, will give us information and inform us, hopefully for change in the fall of 2018.”
With files from Ashley Fitzpatrick/ The Telegram