A report that says Thunder Bay's taxi fares are higher than the provincial average — and wait times are the highest in Ontario — will go under the microscope at Tuesday’s Police Services board meeting.

The independent report — commissioned by the board as part of an extensive review of taxi service in the city — recommends some significant changes to Thunder Bay's taxi bylaw. The report was written by the International Association of Transportation Regulators.

Among the proposals are:

  • License taxi companies to make them responsible for service standards.
  • Gather baseline data for taxi usage by time and day of the week, including information about taxi supply and demand, as well as rates.
  • Calibrate taxi meters.

Thunder Bay Police Services board member Allan Laakkonen said it's too early to nail down a timeline for when these recommendations could be implemented, but he says "it has to be within a couple of years."

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'Incredibly complicated business'

Updating the bylaw is long overdue, he noted.

The work between the board and the transportation regulators began in May, 2012.

The current taxi bylaw has been under the auspices of the Police Services Board since 1996. Enforcement of the bylaw is shared between the police and the city's licensing and enforcement division.

"[The update is] critical for … the city and for the way we're developing," Laakkonen said. "So it gets to be a really interesting challenge for those who have the responsibility for it."

The report noted there is current gap in expertise on the taxi industry, and not enough people providing taxi oversight.

But the report also pointed out that "Thunder Bay enjoys a positive working relationship with its taxi industry, in spite of the ambiguities around certain administrative gaps and processes."

"It's such a dynamic industry, and that's what I learned personally from [the report]," Laakkonen said.

"It's an incredibly complicated business to be in."

According to the report, demand for taxis at the Thunder Bay airport will continue to increase in the next five years.