Chan Taxi latest casualty of City’s calamitous vehicle-for-hire regime
by Mike Beggs
The long-running Chan Taxi Ltd. is the latest Toronto garage to shutter its’ doors.
In or around the start of November, owner Tony Chan announced his retirement, “for so many reasons.”
But, top of the list was the trouble turning a buck since Uber came to town. He found a dwindling supply of drivers to man his fleet of cars (which went “down, down, down” from 40 to around a dozen vehicles, over the past few years).
“No new people are coming in to drive cab, and the older drivers they are getting older and some of them are passing away. So, the number of drivers is getting less and less,” he explains. “The three or four new drivers I did bring in only drove for a few days and didn’t make any money. They’re not staying – even though it’s (now) easy for them to get into the cab business.”
With the market value of plates down to around $30,000, and leases south of $400 a month, Chan has put his on the shelf for the moment, saying, “What else can I do?”
This friendly father of two started out driving for Beck Taxi in 1977, and opened his garage at 545 Warden Ave. a few years later – working hand-in-hand with his brother Jag, who managed Able Atlantic Taxi, for many years. He liked being able to help out other cabbies who couldn’t afford to buy their own cars.
“I loved doing it. But I just didn’t want to keep running the business. I kept losing money every month,” he relates.
He takes issue with the way Private Transportation Company (PTC) cars are regulated under the Vehicle-For-Hire Bylaw (2016) , saying they should be subject to the same rules and regulations as cabs – such as mandatory security cameras.
“These Uber cars are doing the same thing as a taxi driver. They should put a taxi plate on their car. We’re driving taxi, so are they,” he insists.
“It’s not fair for us. There are no rules for PTC’s and they expect the taxi industry (to jump through hoops)…Now, we have to put snow tires on.”
And with the 5,500 licensed cabs now forced to compete with some 70,000 PTC’s, he says, “I don’t know what the City’s doing.”
“I see so many Uber cars parking on the street downtown, waiting for the next call. They’re creating problems, because they’re blocking traffic,” he adds.
Chan is part of the proposed $1.7-billion class action suit against the City of Toronto. He tells Taxi News when he received his taxi plate in 1980, City officials stated, ‘This is for your retirement, because you’ve served the public for so long.’
What does the future hold now that his “retirement income” has been diminished to next to nothing?
“I don’t know. I don’t think about that,” he says, with a laugh.