Two weeks after a blindsiding fare hike implemented by the Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) for all taxi services in Kingston was to take effect, the Commission is planning to readdress that decision.
The increase – a whopping 40 per cent rise to local cab fares – received immediate backlash from the public, as well as from the owners of local taxi companies, their employees, and taxi drivers themselves. Both Mark Greenwood and Brian Campbell, owners of Amey’s Greenwood Taxi and Modern City Taxi respectively – the two largest taxi firms in the area – have publicly expressed confusion and opposition around the increase, as well as fears regarding what that fare hike could mean for their clients who depend on their services, and their businesses as a whole.
Today, Thursday, May 5, 2022, the KATC issued a brief update via email, advising of a newly-scheduled upcoming meeting.
“In light of the extensive input the Commission has received from the Taxi Industry and other stakeholders regarding the fare schedule adopted on March 23, 2022, the Commission will be meeting Monday, May 9, 2022 (sic) to further review the fare schedules,” reads the email, which was sent out by Commission Secretary and Treasurer Dianne Aziz and signed simply as being from the “Kingston Area Taxi Commission.”
Mayor Bryan Paterson confirmed this meeting would, indeed, be taking place, and disclosed that he may have played a role in making that happen.
“Certainly, the large fee increase has gotten the attention of the community. I’ve been approached by several taxi companies, and my office has received a number of letters and phone calls on this. And so, I think, you know, there are some very, very valid concerns,” Paterson said in a phone interview.
“And so, the approach that I took was to call, in this case, Councillor Chapelle, who is a member of the Taxi Commission, to share those concerns with him. And he confirmed to me this morning that the Commission is convening a special meeting to… review some new information and new feedback that, I think, seems to be pretty strongly in favour of limiting a fee increased to 20 per cent,” he continued, “Which, I think, you know, given the cost of living pressures that people are facing right now, I think that there’s real merit to that.”
Mayor Paterson took the time to acknowledge that the situation here in Kingston is rather unique – there is only one other city in the province that has a taxi commission set up to oversee the operational standards of the industry, which is Toronto. The move that saw the KATC become more autonomous, he said, began as a means to address the new and ever-growing presence of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft.
“When the Taxi Commission was set up, it was very clear that it was the Commission that had oversight over the taxi industry. And so, by and large, through certainly my time on Council and through the work that’s been done on the new Bylaw and incorporating ride sharing, and all those pieces, that’s all been dealt with by the Commission, rather than by City Council,” he said. “And so, I think, to be honest, it’s always just respecting jurisdiction.”
However, given the reaction from those in the industry and public, Paterson said he feels the newly-scheduled meeting is necessary – and that he feels confident in the process moving forward and all of the involved parties coming to an agreement and understanding.
“Based on my conversations with Councillor Chapelle earlier today, I think that the commission has certainly heard the feedback that they’ve been getting, and that I’ve been getting, and others, as well,” he concluded. “So, I think that it’s the right move to have another look at this.”
The Kingston Area Taxi Commission meetings are broadcast live on their Facebook Page.
Kingstonist will continue to cover this matter and provide updates as more information becomes available.