Taxi drivers in Halifax are pleading for lenience around a rule in the Motor Vehicle Act that forces them to pull over to pick up or drop off a customer — something they say is impossible in bumper-to-bumper traffic on busy downtown streets.
Dave Buffett, the president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association, said the rule is not new but drivers are noticing the enforcement has recently been strengthened.
"One driver was ticketed when a Metro Transit bus on Barrington Street stopped near the Pogue Fado," Buffett told Don Connolly on Information Morning.
"His passengers said, 'Here's your money,' jumped out of the cab and he was ticketed and he said to the officer, 'I couldn't move ahead. The bus suddenly stopped so I stopped.' There was no opportunity to pull over in the time that they jumped out."
Buffett said during the day and on weeknights it isn't a problem, but on Friday and Saturday nights, pulling over in some areas of the downtown — such as Argyle Street, Grafton Street and Blowers Street — is impossible.
He said as many as six drivers have been hit with the $169-ticket and he's not aware of any who have paid it without complaint.
"There's cars stopped for picking up their friends or cabs picking up people that it's bumper to bumper and a lot of times there's no more than a metre between you and the car ahead of you," Buffett said.
When traffic is at a standstill, Buffett said some passengers choose to leave the cab and walk the rest of the way to their destination.
He believes Halifax Regional Police officers should be lenient in those situations.
"We've had quite a few drivers ticketed because somebody exited their car and said, 'Look, I can walk,'" Buffett said.
"They've been ticketed and the situation is that the driver can't say, 'No, stay in this car, I'm not permitting you to leave the car.'"
Halifax Regional Police said summary offence tickets are issued when an officer has "reasonable and probable grounds" that an offence has been committed under the act.
"Officers also have the discretion to issue a summary offence ticket or not when they observe an offence depending on the circumstances of the incident," they said in a statement.