Who speaks for the cab driver?
Who speaks for the cab driver? That’s a good question. It came to mind yesterday as a half a tank of gas cost $87.00 at a Yonge Street Shell station.
Although Toronto City Hall staff have agreed to recommend a 17.5% increase in taxi fares, it might surprise Torontonians to learn that cab meter fares are currently based on a litre of gas priced at $0.62. Think about that. Can you remember the last time a litre of gas was $0.62?
In response to increased oil prices, Airlines have bumped fares, added fuel surcharges, and dramatically reduced the amount of luggage you can carry for free; one commuter airline charges for every kilo over 23kg/passenger. Courier companies can quickly adjust their prices to pay for the rising costs. The TTC has increased fares twice in a year for the same reason.
But municipally-managed taxi fares are stuck in the economic dark ages. For the past eight straight months, a litre of Toronto gasoline has cost more than $1, and City staff are just now getting around to dealing with the $0.62/litre fare structure.
The impact of the inactivity is clear: every customer tip since mid 2007 has gone to defray the cost of fuel. Every repair that could be put off by the owner/operators has been put off, impacting passenger safety. Every “New Canadian” mouth that was to be fed by a cabbie job enjoyed a little less on the plate.
Is it that City Staff are concerned that voters will revolt against their local politicians if taxi fares reflect the input costs of the business? No one at City Hall seems concerned about the impact new waste and recycling bins, and the licence fees associated with them, will have on the 2010 election. What is it about taxi fares that breeds this inaction?
Is it that Cabbies, given their demographic, have no voice at City Hall?