Victoria cabbies drive fee revolt

Taxis refuse to pay standing fees at Ogden Point

Rakesh Kohli says taxi standing fees at many tourist facilities

Fees charged for the right to pick-up passengers are taking too big a chunk out of taxi fares, drivers argue.

The $200 annual fee to wait at Ogden Point terminal sparked a boycott at the start of the cruise ship season  Saturday.

But the problem extends beyong the dock, said Rakesh Kohli, a taxi driver in Victoria since 1988.

Kohli represents BlueBird Cabs on the recently formed Greater Victoria Taxi Association, representing the region’s largest taxi companies.

He, along with other members of the association joined forces last week by refusing to pay the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s fee.

“We had to start somewhere,” explains Kohli. “(But) it’s not only Ogden Point. Everybody wants the money from the cab drivers.”

Taxis companies must pay a fee to access B.C. Ferry terminals.

They also bid for exclusive pick-up rights at major hotels, the airport, Helijet and the bus depot.

Blue Cabs pays standing fees at the bus depot, worth approximately $50,000 to $60,000 per year. Yellow Cab won the airport bid, which Kolhi estimates to be worth approximately  $500,000 per year.

“I want to get together all the cab companies and just do something about it, otherwise, whatever we make we will have to pay them,” Kohli said.

Fees, including dispatch and standing fees, often add up to more than 50 per cent of a drivers revenues, meaning some only earn minimum wage, he said.

Kuldeep Singh is the president of the Greater Victoria Taxi Association.

“Let us solve the Ogden Point first,” said Singh, declining comment on standing fees elsewhere before talking to his members.

“We want some give and take on both sides,” he said. “The industry keeps going down … The cruise ships are coming in, but all the business is taken away by the tour buses.”

The weak U.S. dollar isn’t helping, Singh added, estimating taxi business is down 18 per cent in Victoria.

Singh is meeting with the harbour authority on Wednesday (April 27).

Sonterra Ross, acting CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, said she was surprised to learn of the taxi drivers’ concerns through the media.

She said the $200 annual fee works out to less than a dollar per cruise ship arrival.

“It’s a significant opportunity for potential fares,” she said.

To date the GVHA has not considered offering an exclusive contract to a single taxi company, Ross said, adding “we may in the future.”

Mohan King represents many of the taxis not abiding by the Ogden Point boycott.

As president of the B.C. Taxi Association, he called the action unacceptable.

Tourism is very important to the industry and the community, he said. “Anything which can put a black mark on it, we don’t support.”

The association has membership from across the province, including 11 small independent companies in Greater Victoria.

“It’s not big money what they (the harbour authority) are asking,” King said.

 

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

13-year-old Langford boy missing

West Shore RCMP say Alex Meickle was likely headed to Tofino

B.C. declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

More than 3,300 firefighters are battling more than 500 fires

Greater Victoria-based digital crisis line sees spike in chats

Service allows youth to chat with volunteers through instant messaging services, text message

UVic chemist claims international prize for ‘reversible’ preservative

University of Victoria green chemist and civil engineer Heather Buckley led a… Continue reading

Impaired driver crashes into Victoria police vehicle, injures officer

Cook Street collision occured in the early morning hours of Tuesday

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Saanich mayor and council will usher in new year with a pay cut

Saanich council to wait and see what other cities do with federal changes to tax exemption

Thieves steal supplies, tools and juice boxes from B.C. summer camp

‘Take a moment to think about who you stole from,’ says Burns Bog Society’s Mark Robertson

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Hedley frontman’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

Jacob Hoggard faces three sexual assault-related charges will return to a Toronto courtroom this morning.

Climate change likely to cause more sewage leaks, says environment minister

More than one hundred municipal wastewater systems did not report how much raw sewage overflowed from their pipes in 2017.

Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

The “real number” of abused children and abusive priests might be higher since some secret church records were lost and some victims never came forward.

Most Read