Port aux Basques taxi service delays closure until April 1
Scott’s Taxi was to shut down March 20
“I don’t blame them either because it is a business and they have to do what’s feasible, but it’s going to be a hard hit for the town.” – Krista Savoury
After decades of service, Scott’s Taxi in Port aux Basques will either be sold or shut down.
The taxi service owners had initially planned to cease operations on Tuesday, March 20 but posted a last-minute reprieve on Facebook stating the company would remain in operation for over another week due to interest from a possible buyer.
If the taxi company does not sell, it will close for good on April 1.
If that’s the case, residents are worried about what might happen if there is no longer a taxi service in the area.
“Last week I met a senior who was downtown at a drug store and I asked how she got there, if a friend brought her,” recounts Doreen Burton.
The senior had taken a taxi to do her banking.
“(With) no taxis this senior won’t be able to do these errands; will have to rely on family and friends.”
Burton is a volunteer with the hospital auxiliary and is accustomed to working with a lot of the region’s seniors. She is worried about the effect on them should the service be discontinued.
“How does one reach the ferry terminal, to and from home?” asked Burton. “How does a senior without a car visit their doctor’s clinic, go for X-rays, revisit the doctor, visit the dentist? If you are sick and need to visit the doctor at Dr. Charles L. LeGrow do you call an ambulance? No, you have to seek out a neighbour’s help even in the wee hours of the morning.”
Burton pointed out that seniors could possibly be cut off from social events, which would negatively impact their quality of life.
“There are places like the seniors’ club who hold events such as dinners and dances. Seniors who need taxi transportation to and from will not be able to attend.”
More than just seniors will be affected, said Krista Savoury. The mother of 14-month-old Jesse Savoury-Hynes worked the bar scene for seven years and in retail at the mall. Since Jesse was born three-months’ premature, weighing only 1.6 pounds at birth, she takes him to regular appointments in the Grand Bay area with Western Health.
Losing the taxi service would make those appointments difficult to keep without becoming dependent on others.
“When I worked I used (taxis) every day to get to work, to get home from work,” said Savoury.
“I do have a big support system. I do get rides. But sometimes a lot of them are not available and I don’t have any other option.”
Savoury says she knows of other mothers, some with children who need constant medical checks, and students who are entirely dependent on the taxi service to commute to and from work.
Some of her friends are concerned about how they will get to work, and one is worried she’s going to have to quit her job. Savoury believes the region’s economy would be adversely impacted by the loss of the town’s taxi service.
Tourism would also likely take a hit.
“At the Legion you get a lot of Legion members from across Canada. That’s the first place they would stop, and we would call a cab and take them around town to different places,” said Savoury.
Tourists staying at local hotels or B&Bs also hire taxis to sightsee along the coast. Savoury also anticipates an escalation in impaired driving.
“If the cab service does go you’ll see clubs trying to get somebody to volunteer ( to drive) because there’s not going to be any other option,” said the former bartender. “You got a hard job to get (bar patrons) out at 4 a.m. with five cabs out at the door waiting; when you got no ride and nowhere to go it’s going to be dangerous.”
Despite her worry, Savoury says she fully understands the economic reality the taxi company is dealing with.
“I don’t blame them either because it is a business and they have to do what’s feasible, but it’s going to be a hard hit for the town (if the business closes),” she said.
Like Savoury, town mayor John Spencer sees both sides of the situation.
“It will be a sad day when PAB does not have a taxi service,” he wrote via email to the Gulf News. “It marks the end of an era for the present provider (and) the town and the region. Over the years, the present operator, and the many other operators, have offered an invaluable service.”
The high cost of doing business is taking a toll on the taxi industry, said Spencer.
“It is not easy balancing costs such as fuel, salaries, upkeep, insurance with fares. High gas prices impact the bottom line just as high gas prices ripple elsewhere in the local economy.
“The recent protests in St. John’s by the taxi industry tells us things are not well. The bottom line is there must be money made or service will suffer.”
Spencer also expressed concern for the townspeople who will be most adversely affected should the taxi service fail to sell.
“Starting a new enterprise will not be easy. Nor will it be easy for those who depend regularly on the availability of the service,” he said. “We are a community of seniors, many of whom depend on a taxi service to pick up essentials such as medical supplies and groceries.”
Representatives for Scott’s Taxi did not respond to requests for comment.
Krista Savoury says knowing the taxi service was readily available gave her a sense of security when it came to transportation for her and son, Jesse Savoury-Hynes.
A “For Sale” sign is visible in the window of the Port aux Basques taxi company that was scheduled to shut down operations on Tuesday, March 20.