Nova Scotia

Taxi drivers furious with council

A decision made by Halifax council to open up the downtown zone to all drivers for more early morning hours is upsetting taxi drivers.

Decision to open up the downtown Halifax zone to all drivers for more early morning hours upsets drivers

A member of Halifax's taxi industry is so frustrated with Regional Council, he thinks the regulation of cabbies should be handled by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Tuesday night councillors approved the first fare increase in seven years, but made other changes that upset the drivers.

Al DesLaurier has driven a taxi for 40 years. He's pleased with the 13 per cent increase in the rate for taxi fares. But DesLaurier is not happy with the decision to open up the downtown Halifax zone to all drivers for even more early morning hours. The change will cover midnight to 5 a.m. Thursday to Sunday as well as the early hours of any holiday Monday.

The Police recommended the move to further reduce violence in the downtown. But DesLaurier doesn't believe any extra cabs will work the bar scene.

"Instead of picking up these rednecks downtown, they're going to be going after the hotels," said DesLaurier.

DesLaurier thinks the taxi industry should be taken out of council's hands and instead be regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

But councillor Jerry Blumenthal disagrees. He supports the concerns of the taxi drivers and stormed out of last night's council meeting. He has another idea for better regulation.

"Set up a real good taxi commission," said Blumenthal. "Put a couple of councillors on it, members of the bar association or the restaurant association and some taxi drivers and then do business together."

It's not clear when the changes to fares and zones will take effect. The industry needs some notice so they can change their meters.

now