Iqaluit council approves taxi fare increase
Fare hike had been postponed for the past two years due to COVID-19 pandemic
Iqaluit taxi fares are about to go up.
City council passed a bylaw at Tuesday’s council meeting that will see fares go from the current $8 rate to $9.25 in 2024. It’s meant to make up for two years of no increases, said Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who is also the taxi committee chairperson.
“What’s being proposed is to catch up for that lost time in recognition of the increased costs for fuel, insurance and other operating costs of our taxi industry,” he said.
The hikes will be staggered.
On May 1, the fare will rise to $8.75, then $9 the following year, and $9.25 the year after, according to the city’s taxi bylaw.
Taxis charge a standard base fare in Iqaluit that does not include a metered rate.
There are other changes to pricing coming: transporting an uncaged animal will cost the full $8.75, and passengers will pay an extra $2 if they have more than two pieces of luggage.
The fare for elders will remain $5 for now.
The increase had been planned to happen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Caribou Tuktu Cabs Inc. business administrator Ronnie MacGregor.
“The taxi industry was very patient, even going through COVID, that those increases were not happening,” he said. “This is kind of a [consolidation] of those yearly schedules.”
The city last raised taxi fare prices in 2019, to $8 from $7.
Councillors were scheduled to complete the first and second reading of the bylaw Tuesday, but Mayor Kenny Bell asked to add the third reading to the agenda during the meeting in order to pass the bylaw.
Every councillor voted in favour of the first two readings except for Coun. Simon Nattaq. The third reading passed unanimously.
Nattaq said he wants to see taxi drivers helping more elders.
“If the fare is going to increase, the cabbies should be willing to help with the [elders’] bags,” he said in Inuktitut, through an interpreter. “When I go into the cab, I want to be sure that I will be helped if I had heavy bags to carry.”
Coun. Joanasie Akumalik was in full support of raising the fares.
He said his car has been out of service since August, which has led him to take a taxi to work and back every day. He’s seen multiple incidents where cab drivers took people home and weren’t paid.
“I really felt sorry for that guy,” Akumalik said. “He’s trying to make a living, he has kids, children, he pays gas, permits and all that.”
In November, RCMP began investigating assault allegations after about 15 cab drivers and Iqalummiut gathered in the streets after a passenger allegedly hit a driver in the head with a beer can over the price of the trip.
Caribou Cabs owner Danny Savard said at the time he wanted council to make paying taxi fares upfront mandatory, so incidents like that don’t occur.
MacGregor, with Caribou Cabs, said the company still wants to see upfront payment mandatory.
As it stands, the bylaw states a cab driver has the option to require fare be paid before the ride happens.
Mandatory upfront payment would make rides safer because there would be no disagreements, there would be no allegations of discrimination about who has to pay first and who doesn’t, and passengers can’t flee from paying the tab, MacGregor said during the meeting.
City administration will review the fare increase schedule every three years, and the committee reviews it every five years.
Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said the city should be looking into another form of public transportation for people who can’t afford cab fares.
“Not to replace taxis by any means, but to compliment them in terms of options for people that may not necessarily need door-to-door service,” Stevenson said.
“And we may be able to flow people through our city in better ways.”
Bell said he wants to see some form of public transportation in place before his term is up.