Taxi fares to increase in Ottawa for 1st time in more than a decade
Drivers describe difficulties of an industry changed by the pandemic
- Ottawa city council approved the changes on June 8, 2022.
- The reduced requirement for insurance will take effect Sept. 1 instead of Nov. 1.
A City of Ottawa committee has agreed to a pair of requests by the struggling taxi industry that would raise meter rates by 10 per cent — the first change in Ottawa since 2010 — while lowering the level of insurance coverage required of drivers.
The largest taxi company in the city, Coventry Connections, and the taxi union, Unifor Local 1688, sent a joint letter to the city's director of regulatory services in February. They described how gas and insurance costs have climbed in the past decade and how fare revenues needed to rise, too, if they are to continue operating.
A few drivers spoke to the community and protective services committee Thursday about how the industry has suffered during the pandemic, as people stayed home and federal workers didn't use taxis between buildings.
Where many drivers used to share a vehicle over multiple shifts, now one driver might pick up rides for a single shift. Others pointed out many drivers who have returned since the pandemic are over the age of 65 and they're not sure who will replace them when they leave the business.
"Now, it's very, very, very difficult to operate a taxi cab," said Unifor Local 1688 president Amrik Singh, who said it's become hard for drivers to earn a living.
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The committee agreed to a maximum taxi fare of $3.80 for the first 150 metres, and 18 cents for each additional 86 metres of travel. Those new prices will take effect June 11, if they are approved by full city council next week.
The taxi union had also described how hard it was to get commercial general liability insurance of $5 million, which the city has required since it made major regulatory changes in 2016.
Staff recommended lowering that coverage to $2 million on Nov. 1, 2022 for all taxis, plus limousine and private transportation businesses, such as Uber and Lyft. That was the amount previously required, and is more in keeping with what other cities require, staff said.