Metro file photo Late-night bar patrons have repeatedly complained in recent years that not enough cabs work Calgary's streets after the sun sets.

Calgary cab patrons will likely be forced to dig deeper in their pockets this fall as the city appears primed to roll ahead with a meter-rate increase of up to eight per cent.

The hike to taxi rates will be the first since October 2012 and is dictated by an established cost index that takes into account everything from the price of gas to vehicle maintenance to what is considered a fair wage in the city.

But not everyone is convinced of the merits of the meter hike.

“I’m against a fare increase because service has not improved,” said Sandy Jenkins with consumer advocacy group, Voters For Taxis.

“There is a problem every weekend getting cabs. The current system is obviously not able to handle this demand. I don’t think raising the fares will change this.”

A report outlining potential meter hikes is due to go before the Taxi Limousine Advisory Committee (TLAC) on Friday who will then make a recommendation to city council.

While the index does indicate an 8.1 per cent hike is appropriate, the city’s livery services department is also offering up options for a smaller hike or 3.1 per cent or 5.4 per cent by calculating the average increase to the costs of doing business over the past two years.

If the full hike was approved, the initial cab “drop rate” would rise from $3.50 to $3.80 and an additional 20 cents would be tacked on for every 121 metres travelled, down from the current rate of 129 metres.

To put it simply, a 10-kilometre cab ride will jump from $18.80 to $20.27. Some trips do carry a minimal wait-time charge as well.

“The costs of doing business are going up,” said Associated Cab General Manager Jeff Garland, who believes the meter hike is necessary. “The licensing fee from the city goes up every year — we’re the highest in North America, basically.”

The meter-hike will likely go before city council in September and take effect shortly after that.

A comparison of cab costs among major Canadian cities finds Calgary’s rates smack-dab in the middle, even with the eight per cent increase.

A 10-kilometre ride in Winnipeg, for example, costs just $17.19, but that same trip in Vancouver will run a customer $21.47.
The last meter hike saw rates jump 4.4 per cent, but Calgary United Cabs founder and driver Rupinder Gill said he saw no need for a price bump.

“We’re happy where it is,” he said. “I hear no complaints about it.”

Marcia Andreychuk, a business analyst with TLAC, said the cost index was established in 2008 to remove “subjective interpretations,” and relies on Statistics Canada data.

She added that the city’s livery department is working actively to address problems outlined by critics, like Jenkins.

“We’re still very much committed to find a solution to peak-period taxi shortages,” Andreychuk said.

Current Calgary cab rates (distance only)
1KM – $4.85
5KM – $11.05
10KM – $18.80

Proposed increase of 3.1% (distance only)
1KM – $5
5KM – $11.40
10KM – $19.40

Proposed increase of 5.4% (distance only)
1KM – $5.13
5KM – $11.63
10KM – $19.76

Proposed increase of 8.1% (distance only)
1KM – $5.27
5KM – $11.93
10KM – $20.27

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