Manitoba

Winnipeg needs more cabs, local taxi company says

A Winnipeg taxi company wants to put 100 more cabs on city streets — but rival companies argue they're not needed and would make it more difficult for existing drivers to make a living.

More cars would cut into cabbies' earnings, competitors argue

A Winnipeg taxi company wants to put 100 more cabs on city streets — but rival companies argue they're not needed and would make it more difficult for existing drivers to make a living.

Paul Atwal, head of Spring Taxi, made his case before the province's taxicab board on Monday, saying the city needs more cabs.

Customers are complaining about long waits, he said.

"We cannot serve [the public] properly. …They always complain. [We receive] so many calls, we can we turn down the phone and refuse some calls," he said.

"[During] peak hours on welfare day or end of the month, the cabs [are] always short."

Atwal proposed adding 100 new taxis to his company's existing fleet of 44: 50 standard cabs and 50 "premium" cabs, which he described as luxury vehicles for which the fares are higher than for standard cabs but lower than for limos. 

But Joan Wilson, manager of Unicity, the city's largest taxi company, told the board that having more cabs of any variety is a bad idea and would "devastate" the industry.

"Speaking for Unicity … our cars are sitting right now between one and two hours waiting for a trip. I really don't see the need," Wilson said.

Adding more cabs would reduce the amount of money each of her drivers takes home, she said. The company currently operates 225 taxis.

"These drivers are working 12, 14, 16 hours a day … trying to pay for their taxis with the cost of fuel, cost of maintenance, everything to run this car," she said.

"They just wouldn't be able to make a living. They're barely making a living right now."           

Another competitor, Duffy's, also spoke against Spring's application for more taxis. That company currently has 154 vehicles on the streets.

"It's going to hurt all the drivers who drive for a living," said Vijay Kaushal, a Duffy's driver. "It can be very hard to make ends meet."

In total, nine companies operate 436 vehicles in Winnipeg under the Manitoba Taxicab Board's jurisdiction.

The board is expected to rule on Spring Taxi's application for more licences by next month.

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