Add up the num­bers to com­pare ride-hail­ing with taxi in­dus­try

Re: “Minister doesn’t sound like fan of ride-hail­ing,” col­umn, Dec. 4.

Times Colonist - - Comment - JACK SAGES Jac­ques (Jack) Sages has been a taxi owner/oper­a­tor for more than 25 years, the past 10 in Vic­to­ria.

As a taxi owner/oper­a­tor, al­low me to of­fer a crash course on Taxi/Uber 101. Taxi drivers pay yearly $50 for a crim­i­nal-record check; this in­cludes the re­newal of their chauf­feur’s per­mit. Taxi drivers pay about $100 for a 12-hour shift. Plus gas.

Taxi owners pay all other costs, which are as fol­lows: Dis­patch fees: $1,200 a month. Main­te­nance: $400 to $500 a month. This in­cludes the twiceyearly ve­hi­cle-safety in­spec­tion and the main­te­nance of the se­cu­rity cam­era, both re­quired by law.

Pur­chase of the next ve­hi­cle through the taxi fund: $300 a month. (Most taxi ve­hi­cles are re­tired af­ter five years.)

In­sur­ance: Most owners op­er­at­ing un­der the big three taxi com­pa­nies (Yel­low, Blue­bird and Vic­to­ria) pay on an av­er­age $1,300 a month based on the com­pany’s ICBC track record, and it has noth­ing to do di­rectly with any in­di­vid­ual driver. In­de­pen­dent taxi owner/op­er­a­tors pay on av­er­age $700 a month, which is based on their record with ICBC.

A taxi medal­lion can be pur­chased on the open mar­ket from ei­ther a com­pany or an in­di­vid­ual owner or can be ob­tained by mak­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to Pas­sen­ger Trans­porta­tion Board.

Medal­lion prices that once were be­tween $250,000 and $300,000 are now down to the $100,000 mark and even meet­ing re­sis­tance at that level due to the Uber threat. I am sure the lat­est is­su­ing of 15 per cent more taxi medal­lions in B.C. will not help that num­ber go north.

The fact that Uber, etc., do not want a cap on the num­ber of their ve­hi­cles in­volves no al­tru­is­tic de­sire to give the con­sumers what they want, but ev­ery­thing to do with in­creas­ing the pool of cash from which they draw their 25 per cent. Uber and the other com­pa­nies do not care a whit if each of their drivers make $30 a day as long as there are hun­dreds of them, thus in­creas­ing Uber’s 25 per cent.

The claim by ride-hail­ing com­pany of­fi­cials that 70 per cent of their drivers work 20 hours a week is a bunch of non­sense. I make a point of talk­ing to Uber drivers when I am trav­el­ling. Most of them treat it as a full-time job and are out there work­ing 50 to 60 hours a week. Yes, just like a taxi driver.

In big cities such as New York, a lot of taxi drivers who went over to ride-hail­ing are back to driv­ing reg­u­lar taxis, as they did not make enough money driv­ing for Uber.

I do not think that Trans­porta­tion Minister Claire Trevena is as anti-Uber as columnist Les Leyne makes her sound. Af­ter all, con­sider these facts:

Trevena au­tho­rized ICBC to cre­ate an in­sur­ance prod­uct specif­i­cally tai­lored for Uber, etc., when we al­ready have one. It is called “ve­hi­cle for hire to carry pas­sen­gers in­sur­ance,” a.k.a. taxi in­sur­ance.

The idea of Uber, etc., pay­ing some sort of com­mer­cial in­sur­ance only when drivers have pas­sen­gers is not rea­son­able as they will be driv­ing around look­ing for their next hail the rest of the time. Yes, pretty much like a reg­u­lar taxi, which gen­er­ally is oc­cu­pied with a pay­ing cus­tomer 50 per cent of the time.

Trevena also said noth­ing about ride-hail­ing cars hav­ing to go through a twice-yearly ve­hi­cle­safety in­spec­tion, nor did she say any­thing about com­pul­sory safety video cam­eras.

She also ne­glected to say that she would make sure that Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle Safety and En­force­ment, which from time time has “hound the taxi in­dus­try” cam­paigns with reg­u­la­tions and rules cre­ated mostly for the truck­ing in­dus­try, does the same to Uber, etc.

So please, Les, give the lady a break.

TIMES COLONIST

A taxi on Dou­glas Street.

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