Taxi fares to increase 30% in Cape Breton Regional Municipality: council vote
SYDNEY, NS — The price of a taxi will increase by 30% in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality starting this weekend.
At a special council meeting on Friday morning, the council voted to pass a motion on raising taxi fares after a March 8 council meeting voted to expedite potential changes, in a second and final reading of the motion.
The previous rate increase was in 2008, said Paul Burt, head of building, planning and licensing laws at the CBRM, who added that the consumer price index – which measures the increase in the cost of life – increased by 31% during this period.
“So the increase is certainly consistent with how the cost of living has gone up over the years since there was a rate increase,” Burt said at the meeting.
The increase is effective as of Saturday, Christina Lamey, communications officer for CBRM, confirmed to the Cape Breton Post.
Burt said two different taxi company owners expressed concerns after the March 8 council meeting about higher fares when leaving their own areas to enter other areas.
“Some of them thought the 30% might be a bit too high for, say, going from North Sydney to Glace Bay or something that (adds) $15-20 to that fare, acknowledging that it’s a long distance traveled and they’re not the bread and butter of the taxi business,” Burt said.
Burt said one group at the taxi committee meeting only wanted a 20% raise, while the other group was more in favor of the 30% raise.
Advisors have debated setting a maximum and minimum tariff to avoid underpricing, where companies offer services at a lower price than their competitors to stay competitive.
“I think if we set a minimum as the current rate and a maximum as the current rate plus 30%, that would give those operators a bit of reassurance that things aren’t going to be undermined too much,” Burt said.
“But what we’re also hearing is (that) for the first time taxis (businesses) kind of seem to be leaning a little bit more towards working with each other, as they realize that’s their industry. and that the way they run their businesses is going to affect the industry locally.
Councilors Darren Bruckschwaiger and Eldon MacDonald both expressed support for keeping the bill as is, without amendments to include a minimum and a maximum.
“The first thing that will go, if you go into undercutting, is vehicle maintenance,” Bruckschwaiger said. “It’s the last thing they can do to try to save a few bucks if they start undercutting.
“I am in favor of the 30%. As much as I feel for the elderly and everyone involved (who depend on the taxi service), I think there is no choice in the matter based on what is happening in the industry with the gasoline prices, rising costs.
The motion to increase taxi fares by 30% was passed unanimously by all councilors present. District 3 Cyril MacDonald County and District 7 Council. Steve Parsons was not present at the meeting.
Jessica Smith is a multimedia journalist at the Cape Breton Post. Follow her on Twitter @CBPost_Jessica.