Last Updated on May 14, 2022 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) announced amendments to the fare schedules first adopted in late March.
Last month, the board imposed a roughly 40% increase in fares which was largely opposed by the industry.
This week KATC issued a release thanking members of the industry and the Kingston community for their input on the fares, including a survey from drivers at both Modern City Taxi and Amey’s.
Those surveys, including roughly 85% and 75% of company drivers respectively, saw over 95% of surveyed drivers being opposed to the hikes.
In previous communications, KATC has said part of the reasoning behind such a large hike was to provide a quality investment in working drivers, however throughout the last month many drivers have rejected such a dramatic increase.
On Monday, KATC released the following statement, signalling they had chosen to relent from the fare increases they had been trying to impose on the city’s cab companies.
“The Commission called a special meeting to make amendments to the fare schedules which were adopted on March 23, 2022. In addition, the Commission revoked the Tiered Fare schedule which was adopted on April 20, 2022.
The Commission wishes to thank members of the industry and the Kingston Community for their input on the fares. In particular we acknowledge the work of Amey’s and Modern City Taxi in providing the Commission with a survey of their driver’ views on appropriate fares.
We recognize that they are the most affected by and hear most about what fares our Community would like to see. We are also grateful to members of the Kingston Community who contacted us directly about the fares.
Both Amey’s and Modern City Taxi have agreed to the revised fares adopted by the Commission tonight,” the full statement reads.
KATC declined to answer any further questions, with Secretary and Treasurer Dianne Aziz saying the statement served as their only comment.
Brian Campbell, an owner of Modern Taxi, says the industry is still at a loss where this idea came from in the first place.
“We were crystal clear on our position right from the get-go for months now,” Campbell said.
“We don’t know where it came from, we were as puzzled as the public.”
The more moderate raise which the industry has been asking for is more reasonable he says, and can be revisited down the line depending on things like gas prices.
“In these strange times we’re living in how could anybody possibly want to predict 6 months or 12 months down the road,” Campbell said.
“I think that would be reckless and irresponsible.”
While happy to have gotten to this conclusion, owners at both Kingston’s cab companies say they’ve got a sour taste from the “heavy handed” approach KATC has taken in response to their stand against the large rate hikes.
Amey’s owner Mark Greenwood said he wants KATC to have more checks and balances from the city, saying it’s an “archaic” system.
Greenwood said the lack of communication about changes from the Commission is causing unnecessary problems.
“We don’t know about it until a day or two before the meeting or when it’s on our plate,” Greenwood said.
“There’s next to zero communication between the commission and ourselves… We have sent many letters to the commission, and we get no response other than ‘we’ve received them’.”
Greenwood said even as the decision has been reversed, there was implication by some members of the Commission that the industry itself was at fault for not communicating clearly enough that the hikes weren’t wanted.
He says he thinks that is an unfair justification.
“I wrote a letter December 30, March 2, March 14 I think it was,” Greenwood said.
“I presented to them at council… we were really caught off guard by this.”
Both owners say the Commission has effectively lost the trust of the industry, with some growing suspicious that KATC isn’t actually there to assist them.
At this point, however, they’re happy to have the resolution they do.
Greenwood, who has said the hike would have killed Kingston’s taxi industry, says the community push brought that to a halt.
“I think they realized they wouldn’t have the support if they suspended our license for two weeks and all the cabs stopped,” Greenwood said.
“It was just really the public push from the citizens of Kingston that really saved us.”
The cab companies will now adopt a 20% fare increase to cover rising costs for drivers, the increase they had identified themselves as reasonable.