More taxis drivers took the streets late at night in Alberta’s other major city after the introduction of a surcharge, but an industry official suggests the only real fix will be staggered closing times for drinking establishments.
In 2008, Edmonton added a $3 fee to all cab fares between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. in response to increase customer demand. The thinking was to entice more cab drivers to work the less-than ideal, bar-closing hours.
Now, Calgary Ald. John Mar is considering a motion to implement a similar model in Calgary.
But while Philip Strong with the Edmonton Taxi Service Group said the surcharge improved late-night service, he said most companies see staggered bar closing times as the real answer.
“It takes you four hours to get people to the bars and then they all want to leave in the same half-hour,” he said.
But Mar said the city has explored the “extraordinarily complicated” staggered closings model in the past but ultimately the province ruled against it.
Mar sees a possible surcharge in Calgary ranging from $3 to $5 per late-night ride or possibly being based on a percentage of the total fare. He said early feedback provided indicates the idea is popular among young women, adding more readily available cabs could improve safety as well.
“Obviously there are some certain levels of risk for a female passenger,” Mar added.
Background on Calgary taxis
- Calgary city council recently approved 55 new cab licenses with the requirement that all plate holders work late Fridays and Saturdays.
- Calgary maintains one of the better customer-to-cab ratios in all of Canada.
— With files from Robson Fletcher