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Taxi committee okays rate hike

Fares would jump to six dollars, elders exempt

By CHRIS WINDEYER

Taking a taxi in Iqaluit could soon cost a dollar more if city council approves a recommendation passed Monday by the city’s taxi committee.

The committee voted 4-2 in favour of a rate hike that would see fares jump from five dollars to six. Fares for elders will remain $5.

Pai-Pa Taxi owner Craig Dunphy said rising costs for gas and maintenance have made it tough for drivers to make a living.

“It costs a bloody fortune to keep these cars on the road,” he said. “We’re not trying to bankrupt anybody, we’re trying to make a living.”

Under the proposed fare changes, passengers would also have to pay an additional half-price fare when travelling with three or more children or suitcases. It’s not clear if a passenger travelling with two children and one suitcase would have to pay more.

The committee held a public meeting March 22 to test public opinion on the proposed rate hike, which has been in the offing for months, but hardly anyone showed up.
Committee chair and deputy mayor Al Hayward said that’s evidence the general public sees the rate hike proposal as fair. He said the extra dollar would amount to about $60 dollars per day more for cabbies.

“I think the public knows it’s a good rate,” he said. “It’s been a cheap rate for two years. There hasn’t been any kind of increase and they recognize that every price in town, gas, insurance, they’ve all gone up and (the rate hike) is just fair for anyone trying to make a living.”

It will likely be May before the new fare goes into effect because the taxi committee’s recommendation won’t get on the city council agenda until April 10 and will have to wait another two weeks for third and final reading.

Next up for the committee is an overhaul of the city’s taxi bylaw. Committee members want to update the bylaw to include rules governing the condition and cleanliness of vehicles, safety and bylaw enforcement.

Taxi fares last increased in August 2004, when council approved an increase from $4.50 to $5.

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