Taxis are seen surrounding the scene of a confrontation between taxi drivers and another group on Saturday night. The owner of Caribou Tuktu Cabs says if fares were collected at the start of a ride, this would avoid violent confrontations. (Photo courtesy of Kenny Bell)

Iqaluit taxi company owner wants fares to pay up front

Proposal follows Saturday night confrontation between 15 drivers and group of people

By David Lochead

Caribou Tuktu Cabs owner Danny Savard says he wants Iqaluit city council to require taxi fares to be paid up front — before the journey begins — as a way to avoid violent confrontations.

“That would solve 50 to 75 per cent of arguments between customers and drivers,” Savard said in an interview Wednesday.

RCMP are investigating several allegations of assault following a confrontation between about 15 taxi drivers and a group of people on Saturday evening.

Savard told Nunatsiaq News his understanding of some details has changed from an initial description he offered on Monday, following more discussions with taxi drivers.

He said he’s heard his driver was hit in the head with a beer can, rather than a beer bottle.

As well, he said he has heard it took the RCMP about 30 minutes to arrive, rather than 45 minutes as he was told on Monday.

The confrontation stemmed from an argument over paying for a ride that started at CIBC and ended near Hunter’s Market, Savard said. After a taxi driver was hit, as many as 15 taxi drivers arrived on the scene and a group of people supporting the customer arrived as well, he said.

On Monday, Mayor Kenny Bell said he spoke with Savard about the idea of having people pay for taxi rides up front. The mayor agreed it could be a good idea.

Bell added that taxis only accepting cash can present difficulties for customers. Savard said his company wants to install debit and credit machines, so payments can be easier.

The RCMP met with Savard to discuss Saturday’s incident, he said.

In their conversation, Savard said he and the police discussed the importance of clarifying whether the call is because of an assault or argument —as an assault will merit a quicker response.

The RCMP’s staffing challenges were also discussed, he added.

Savard said his company will work on a policy to ensure that when a driver calls for help, a smaller number of fellow drivers respond. The large number of taxi cars at the incident on Saturday delayed the RCMP from reaching the incident, he added.

Savard said he does not know whether racism played a factor in the initial incident. In September, taxi drivers stopped driving for several hours on a Saturday night to protest what they described as racially motivated attacks.

On Monday Bell said he received a video of someone yelling a racist slur at drivers once the incident had escalated.

Savard did add his drivers of colour work in other jobs, such as in government or as security, and experience racism in those settings as well.

“The racism is all over town,” Savard said.

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(26) Comments:

  1. Posted by Racismbythemarginalized or is it?? on

    It just sounds and feels weird to be reading stories of racism in Iqaluit of all places.
    Is it that the Inuit are tired of being second class and have found another group of minorities in the taxi drivers to bulky and segregate?
    Or it is the white people that moved to Iqaluit after failing everywhere else only to realize that they can still use their white privilege to bully, abuse and segregate.
    Either way, I found Iqaluit to be overly racist; the Inuit deep down worship white people as witnessed by how well the women, especially the good looking ones, worship even the ugliest whiteman on the planet, while enduring abuse from such.
    I feel sorry for the black people that have to endure the puwatiki taunts from young kids, even adults join in shouting the taunts.
    The work environments are characterized by the same bullying and racism, especially GN.
    Just too much hatred for such a small place ..sad! ?

    • Posted by Wayne on

      You should work on being part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. Racism will not go away until we all squash it at all levels. No one race is better then the other, the world will be a better place when people realize that.

    • Posted by John K on

      You are definitely part of the problem.

      Second class? I got almost all of my qualifications for free, AT LEAST, some of them I got paid to do. My coworkers probably would have liked that too.

      Speaking of my coworkers… if all the white people you have such a problem with left I would be one of three people in this office and the other two aren’t inuk.

      I feel sorry for you. You’re obviously jealous and bitter.

  2. Posted by Enough is enough on

    Pay up front, as they should. You take a bus, you don’t pay when the bus drops you off so why should a cabbie be any different? Anyone who’s driven a taxi in the north knows that they might get several dozen non-paying customers in a single day. Down south this is a summary offense which will land you in a lot of trouble, but in Nunavut it is somehow considered acceptable. Anyone who’s taken a cab in Iqaluit knows the level of BS these drivers have to deal with, for little pay. People bashing them non-stop on facebook, spitting on drivers, yelling racial slurs at them, etc.

    Alternatively, make sure passengers present ID when they book a cab. No ID, no cab ride. Non-paying/aggressive customers get a visit from the RCMP and are banned from Caribou Taxi.

    Another option is to go digital. Cashless fares where you pay by credit card or a prepaid account balance, over an app. No credit card or no balance = no ride.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      Sounds like a commie rule.

  3. Posted by Timing issue on

    I was with the person who first called the incident into the RCMP. We called at 5:08 pm, the RCMP showed up – and this is recorded in a video that we were taking – 8 minutes later, at 5:16 pm. Not 30 minutes, not 45 minutes – 8 minutes after the first call. We spoke with both the RCMP and a Caribou Cab person, once one of the unruly passengers had been handcuffed and taken away, to say we had been the ones to call. Neither the RCMP nor the cab company reached out to us on Sunday (the day following) to confirm this fact. For Caribou Cabs to still say it took 30 minutes for the RCMP to show up is simply wrong and incorrect, and does a disservice to the RCMP.

  4. Posted by Geneva on

    What if customers need to go to the banks first in order to get the cash?? If debit and credit machines will be provided that will be much easier for the customers as we can pay for less trips

    • Posted by Try this on

      Plan ahead?

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      Nope. Have the cash on hand or walk and get some before getting into the Cab. No reason to call a cab when you don’t have any cash with you.

    • Posted by John K on

      Take responsibility for yourself or walk.

    • Posted by To the Bank, Jeeves! on

      Then the customers are going to put up a fight because that should, technically, be $16. One trip to go to the bank, and one trip to go to the final destination. Way too many people here expect a personal chauffeur service out of an $8 ride.

  5. Posted by Snowflake on

    Seems like
    The cab drivers were vigilante to respond to the cab driver who got hit they should of let the RCMP do there job
    Not a mob of cab drivers

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      I guess there is a limit to the number of times you can get roughed up and abused by scumbag customers before you take matters into your own hands.i don’t blame them one little bit.

  6. Posted by Deja vu on

    Wow. Is it just me or doeS this feels like deja vu! Im sure a decision was made already that required up front paymnet for cabs and it lasted for about 6 seconds and none of ths drivers enforced it so heee we are habing the same conversation all over again.

    • Posted by Scott on

      After the 1st day, only 1 driver ever asked me for money up front, and I did not see him after like a month or 2.

      Had one driver mention to me he would have to ask if there was someone else in the cab, but he was not if it was just someone he recognized as always pays.

  7. Posted by Lives in Iqaluit on

    I absolutely think this is the way to go, you’re gonna pay the driver anyways…just pay him at the start of the trip.

    Electronic would also suggest less cash on hand, lowers risks of interaction for germs and less cash for thefts. Counting out at the end of the night would be easier too for staff and drivers.

    100% make this happen!!

  8. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Good idea but cab companies also have to come out of the middle ages and allow fares to be paid via Credit and Debit cards, the technology exists and it works up here.

    • Posted by Cardano on

      We should be able to pay with Crytpo!

  9. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Iqaluit has always been a very racist place. Literally for decades. Inuks, whites, blacks, mixed race, French, East Coasters, you name it-each group has significant numbers who carry out racist taunts, vandalism, physical violence, systemic racism , etc…. against one or more of the others. It has been going on for decades and It is quite appalling to see in our capital. Anyone who says it doesn’t exist is living in a bubble. It would be a good idea to make people pay up front and electronic pay of some sort would probably be a good idea too. There are a lot of people who try to pull the drive and dash without paying and then like this situation turn it into a big race riot. Maybe the guy should have stopped being an asshole and saved enough money to pay the cabbie. The attention should be on the jerk that started this whole stupid affair by not paying for a service which he had already received.

  10. Posted by Aputi on

    Small town taxis have debit machines lol caribou cabs what a joke

  11. Posted by John K on

    So first of all, the bylaws already state that you are to pay up front. Just enforce it.

    Secondly, it’s just a good idea. You have to pay anyway and there’s no running meter so why do you care when you have to pay? Unless you want to keep the option of ditching open.

    Someone asked about if you need to go to the bank. If you’re able bodied then you can walk.

  12. Posted by Taxi Lifer on

    I have been a cab customer for 21 years. Most times I walk within town. Since I moved to Apex, that’s when it became challenging. I have many incidents and stories I can relay but, that will not help. I turned 60 in September. My fare is now 5.00. But, I pay 8.00 (standard fare) adding a 3 dollar tip because I’m coming from Apex and going to Apex. All drivers have generously accepted the tip as it’s extra cash. I have been told I don’t look old enough for the senior fare several times and showed my ID. Riding with intoxicated people going to work in the morning is not the best start to my day but it’s happened many times. Riding with cab drivers that are asking you to rent a room or help find accommodation is a bit much to ask or talking my ear off about their problems. My point is, it can be a wonderful community oriented company if there’s a will and willingness by the owners and the city to work together. A lot of us do not speak out as there really is not much that can be done or has been done. Except a cab driver cannot refuse a ride to Apex. Early on cabs used to drop off passengers to another cab in the dead of winter because that cab is going to Apex. A few of my regular drivers know me well and are very friendly and take me where I need to go. BTW: I was paying ten dollars to go from and to Apex to show I appreciate the service. I just wanted to share my experiences and I cannot afford a vehicle if people are wondering.

  13. Posted by uvanga on

    Same old problems. Same solutions, busses, uber, city run taxi company.

    • Posted by Ignorance is Bliss on

      These are not solutions. Busses are not going to work because a taxi is only $8 and picks you up and drops you off at location. Even if you charged only like $3 for a bus, nobody wants to stand in the cold at -50 waiting for a bus, especially because it’s unavoidable that busses will end up off-schedule. They end up off-schedule in large cities where a new one comes every 8 minutes, imagine in Iqaluit where one might come every hour?
      Uber is not a solution unless Uber starts here. Uber is a private company and you can’t tell them what to do. I will admit the best solution is Uber-style technology: Enter your pickup and drop-off locations and pay with debit/credit already in the system.
      City run taxi company is an AWFUL idea. The public administration of unionized taxi workers, abuse, grievances, scheduling/compensation/overtime, handling cash, vehicle maintenance and renewal, oh my it just makes me ill to think about. Some industries are better left far from the hands of government.

  14. Posted by Yuri on

    Instal a pay it forward system.

Comments are closed.