Coun. Cory Thomas presents the new bylaw to council. ((Brendan Elliott/CBC))

Summerside city council voted Monday night to get rid of virtually all fare regulation on taxi companies.

Two companies came to council in February, each complaining that the other was not following the city's regulated fares. After a debate that included a public meeting, council decided to open up the marketplace.

"What's different is that now council won't be setting rates in particular zones," said Cory Thomas, chair of the police services committee.

"The taxi drivers could give someone a deal if they wish. They can charge 50 cents if they want to."

The zone system has been entirely axed. The only remaining regulation is a maximum fare charge: $11, and $10.50 for seniors.

The new system could conceivably raise costs for taxi riders considerably. Where it cost $6 Monday to go from one zone to another, it could cost $11 now. Thomas doubts that will happen.   "Think about it. If I take a cab from Reid's Corner to downtown Summerside and someone charges me $11 dollars, I'm not going to deal with that company again. I'm going to go with the other guy," he said.

"They could [both charge $11], but I think as you've seen there's a divide between the two companies. I really don't think they're going to be working together."

Thomas said if fares do start to escalate, council has the right to step in and go back to the old system of dictating prices.