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City staff scramble to find a solution as Burlington’s main taxi service set to close it doors

Burlington Taxi is set to close it's doors forever on Nov. 26, 2021 due to the impacts of COVID, increasing insurance rates, and ride sharing services. File / Global News

Burlington mayor Marianne Meed Ward is characterizing the loss of the city’s primary taxi service as a “huge” after the 53-year fixture of the community will close its doors for good on Friday.

“This has been a tough couple of days on our community — we are all saddened by news of Burlington Taxi’s closure,” Ward said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is a huge loss of a long-standing business in our city and a community partner of decades that supported many local charities.”

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City staff learned of the closure two weeks ago and have been working to find some sort of temporary transition to another taxi service.

Ward 4 Coun. Shawna Stolte, who’s been working the soon-to-be-defunct taxi service since its announcement, said in a statement that the service put an option on the table to transition to an alternative taxi business outside of Burlington.

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However, legislative requirements became a road block for that possibility.

“Bylaw amendments and legal considerations necessary to make this happen successfully by Nov. 30 was not going to result in the best service transition possible to Burlington residents,” said Stolte.

The city revealed closure is tied to recent labour shortages incurred amid the pandemic along with financial impacts from COVID, dramatic increases in vehicle insurance rates and the impact of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft on the taxi transportation industry.

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Scott Wallace, president of Burlington taxi, said further complications involved the licensing of drivers which required criminal background checks, defensive driving training and even doctors notes.

“It’s six to seven hundred dollars just to get on the road which is quite expensive to come in and start the job,” said Wallace.

City manager Tim Commisso and city council say they hope to bring forward some sort of solution in December to bridge the anticipated gap in service.

“Council has directed staff to continue to take all necessary and reasonable measures to update bylaws and policies to create the conditions for the return of a taxi service to Burlington as soon as possible,”  Commisso said in an email.

 

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