Iqaluit riders want better service if fares increase
Iqalungmiut say taxi companies must give better service to justify higher fares.
VALERIE G. CONNELL
It’s a trade-off. If Iqaluit cabbies hike their fares, riders want a better, safer taxi service.
Cab companies want to jack up fares to cover costs they’ve incurred due to recent gas-price increases.
Taxi fares in Iqaluit are regulated through the Town’s bylaw process and can only be changed by the Iqaluit Town Council.
During a public meeting Jan. 16, Iqaluit residents told their mayor, council and representatives of local taxi companies they want concessions if they are going to be asked to pay more.
One woman said an increase to the proposed rate of $5 would add $60 a week to her childcare expenses, and she asked about a subsidy for daycare. She requested a subsidy be given to parents who use cabs to take their children to daycare.
Another woman said the discussion, which became heated at times, confirmed her decision to buy am automobile.
People complained of long waits for cabs, and of “tours around town” they get while cabbies pick up additional customers. Some said the delays have made them late for work or appointments.
One woman suggested employers in town might consider staggering working hours to deal with large numbers of people needing cabs at the same time.
Nelson Soucy, co-owner of Pai-Pa Taxi, said cabs are delayed if people aren’t ready when the cab arrives, or if customers don’t take the cab they called. The delay is then passed on to other customers.
Cab-company representatives cited recent gas-price hikes, car maintenance costs, and the fact that they’ve only received a 25-cent fare-hike in the last eight years as reason for requesting the increase.
In a surprise move at the meeting, two of the owners of Pai-Pa Taxi Ltd. suggested a fare-increase to $4.50, including trips to Apex. They proposed that a different rate be charged for trips from the causeway to Apex or the new subdivision, but did not suggest a rate.
Nanook Polar Taxi Co. and Nunavut Toutoune Cabs were also represented at the meeting. Nanook’s representative said he was in favour of the move.
Toutoune owner Aurore Martin, whose first language is French, said she was unable to understand the proceedings and would have to get clarification from other cabbies who were present.
Late last year, cab companies proposed changes be made to the Town’s taxi bylaw to increase the fares to $5, or $4 when more than one customer is in a cab. The present rate is $3.75.
The proposal would also have hiked the fare from the causeway to Apex or the Road to Nowhere to $8 from the current $5.
Increases in taxi fares in Iqaluit were made in 1985, to $2, in 1987 to $2.75, in 1992 to $3.50, and 1998 to the present $3.75.
Mayor John Matthews said the council would discuss the proposed changes to the taxi bylaw at an upcoming meeting, probably in February.