Fredericton is considering making it mandatory for cabs to have metering pricing, in an effort to attract more drivers to the industry and improve customer service.
But the possible move from zone pricing to meters is cause for concern, according to some taxi drivers and owners in the city.
“It’s going to cost them more and it’s not going to be more efficient because there’s going to be less drivers out there,” said Wayne Duncan, a driver with Checker Cab.
Right now, cabs run on a zone system and customers pay a flat rate. If meters are installed, it could result in a fare increase of at least 25 per cent as they normally charge by time, not mileage.
“We don’t want those prices to get so high that we’re losing customers because it’s too expensive and then by losing customers we’re also going to lose drivers and that defeats the purpose of trying to get better service in the city,” said George Youssef, one of the owners of Checker Cab.
The idea behind changing the system stems from the need to make the industry a little more attractive. There’s a cab shortage and on busy bar nights, that poses an issue for patrons looking for a ride home.
Checker Cab has 44 cars and the owner says it’s hard to attract new drivers.
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“Our problem here in Fredericton is trying to get more people into the cars to give better service. How we do that is what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” said Youssef.
City staff would not provide Global News with an interview, but in a statement says they’ve begun a dialogue with taxi owners and business agencies about the taxi service in Fredericton.
“This is the beginning of a process and no decisions have been made. The next step is to engage the public and other stakeholders in a survey, expected to begin in a few weeks,” writes Wayne Knorr, a spokesperson with the city.
Youssef questions whether the city’s move to look at metering is somewhat self serving, as they’re working to get more people out of cars and onto city transit.
“You can’t control an industry and help yourself in another area that you’re lacking,” said Youssef.
Many companies across the country work on a metering system, including cab companies in Moncton and Saint John.