You puke, you pay: Regina cabs could start charging passengers cleanup fee

This week, the city's committee on protective and community services will discuss a series of amendments to the current Taxi Bylaw.

The new fee is one of numerous amendments to Regina's Taxi Bylaw

The City of Regina recommends leaving the decision to install safety shields up to drivers. (CBC)

Puking passengers in Regina may soon have to stomach a new fee if they get sick — or expel other bodily fluids — in a taxi.

The city's administration recommends the fee schedule be updated to allow up to a $100 cleanup fee to be charged to passengers who ruin a cab by vomiting. 

Leslie McNabb, who represents taxi drivers with the United Steelworkers Union, said this isn't a huge problem for the industry but it does indeed happen.

"You can imagine if someone threw up in your cab, you're losing your livelihood for those hours until you can get it cleaned out and aired out."

She said this drivers usually encounter puking passengers at a time of night when they are busy taking calls, taking passengers home. 

Taxicab bylaw review complete

The recommended introduction of a new cleanup fee is a result of a review of the city's Taxi Bylaw.

A final report that details a series of proposed amendments to the legislation will be discussed by the community and protective services committee on Thursday. 

The list of changes includes: 

  • Lottery for seasonal taxi owner licences.
  • Brokers have to submit driver hour logs to the city.
  • In-car surveillance must record audio, capture footage from front exterior of vehicle. 
  • New guidelines for how many hours driver must use their licensed vehicle for three month period.
  • New provision that drivers can refuse a trip for safety reasons.
  • Each licensed taxi broker must have at least one accessible taxi available for dispatch at all times.
  • Brokers must ensure computer dispatch systems can receive emergency button distress calls from drivers.
  • New $100 passenger cleanup fee.
Cameras in Regina cabs are mandatory, but protective shields are optional. (CBC)

Safety shields to remain optional

The review says because of dividing opinions on installing safety shields in cabs, doing so will continue to remain optional. 

"While some believe they would significantly increase driver safety, others believe they would negatively impact customer service, the number of passengers able to be transported and communication with passengers should an issue arise that requires their attention," reads the report. 

McNabb said previously, some drivers felt brokers and the city frowned on the installation of these shields, which is why she's pleased that option is going to be put down in writing. 

She called the safety improvements outlined in the review, such as audio for surveillance and exterior video, a good start, but believes shields ought to be mandatory.

"And it's not because all of your passengers are unsavoury or anything like that, but it just takes one."

"I've heard horror stories where people just reach up and start strangling them with their seat belt and things like that," said McNabb.

People in the taxi industry had mixed reactions at a Regina committee meeting in June 2016, when councillors voted to refer an item on seasonal licences back to administration. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

Round 2 for seasonal licences debate

In June 2016, city council voted in favour of issuing winter seasonal licences by a lottery system instead of distributing the directly to taxi brokers who, in turn, resell them to drivers.

That decision, however, was referred back to administration until the bylaw review was completed.

McNabb called last year's delay a "blow" and said drivers felt like "the rug got pulled out from under them."

"We won't breathe easy until it's passed by city council on the 26th."

During the previous council debate, Sandy Archibald, manager of Regina Cabs, expressed frustration about a lack of consultation on the matter. 

She also said the industry makes business decisions based on how seasonal licences are currently distributed — to taxi brokers. 

McNabb believes the new lottery system is fairer to drivers.

"They will have a chance to be entrepreneurs and the brokerages will be a service to taxi drivers and then they'll be on a better footing."

With files from Micki Cowan