Beck taxi petition calls on city for cheaper meter rate

A Toronto taxi company says it wants the city to drop its meter rate so it can compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and riders will stop taking "unnecessary risks" to pay less to get around.

Ride-sharing services like Uber offer cheaper base fares than traditional taxis

A Beck taxi driver joins a protest against ride-sharing service Uber. On Tuesday, Beck Taxi called on the city to drop the meter rate for the city's drivers. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

A Toronto taxi company says it wants the city to drop its meter rate so it can compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and riders will stop taking "unnecessary risks" to pay less to get around.

Beck Taxi launched its online petition calling for a cheaper fare on Tuesday, the day before a new report on the ground transportation industry is released at city hall.

Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck, said Torontonians pay the highest meter rates in Canada and that the city, which regulates the price — $4.25 to get in the cab then 25 cents for every 0.143 kilometres plus 25 cents for waiting time under engagement — should also consider lowering its licensing fees.

"We want to make sure that we increase ridership," Hubbard said, adding a more "reasonable" rate would get more people back in cabs.

Alex Pierson, spokesperson for Co-op Cabs, said her company called for a 20 per cent reduction in taxi fares during consultations with the city this summer.

Pierson said Co-op is also hoping the city's report will come up with several changes to training programs, car inspections and a requirement for all drivers to have commercial insurance.

"Anything less than a level playing field will be considered unacceptable as our drivers simply can no longer compete," Pierson said of Wednesday's report.

Beck hasn't said what it thinks the rate should be, but Hubbard said it still needs to cover the city-mandated fees taxi drivers face, including the $316 for a taxi license, $303 renewal fee, plus the costs of a police background check.

Hubbard also said people are currently taking "unnecessary risks" to pay less by taking services like UberX, which offers base fares of $2.50 with additional kilometres and time costing less as well.

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," she said.

Uber's rate, however, also changes based on both the service selected and demand on the system, meaning at some points — often in poor weather or at peak times — requesting a ride can be more expensive than taking a traditional taxi.

City to release taxi report

Coun. Jim Karygiannis, vice chair of the Muncipal Licensing and Standards committee, said dropping the taxi meter rate is a good idea and should have been done "much earlier."

It's a pain in the pocket.- Gagandeep Singh, Toronto taxi rider

"This is their wish … I think that we should be looking at supporting it," he said.

Karygiannis, meanwhile, wouldn't say what's in the report being released tomorrow, but said the city needs to level the playing field when it comes to the taxi industry.

Gagandeep Singh, a Torontonian who doesn't own a car, said he would welcome a drop in prices. He said taking taxis everywhere he needs to go would cost him between $25 and $50 per day, so he relies on other options.

"It's a pain in the pocket," Singh said, adding he would be more likely to hail a cab if it was cheaper.

Beck taxi plans to keep its petition going throughout the fall. Hubbard said she's also hoping to hear about some potential changes for the industry coming from city hall during that time.

She said tomorrow's report will likely have some "ideas" but it's action cab drivers are looking for.

"We want to make sure that city hall responds," she said.


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