January 2019

It’s not easy being me, but that’s not just me…

A couple of people have been in touch with me about efforts to get taxi and insurance companies to reduce their dues and charges which brings up some of my pet peeves.

Given that this paper has been writing for years about the horrible situation City Council put you all in when it gave Uber, Lyft and other PTC companies the keys to the treasury, I certainly sympathize.

Here’s the problem. For damned good reasons, this paper has never gotten involved in money disputes between cab companies and taxi owners and drivers.

These problems invariably boil down to the drivers saying they don’t want to pay so much and the companies saying they have their costs too, they are providing more rides than ever to the drivers working with them and if drivers don’t like the service provided they can always change companies.

That leaves the paper as monkey in the middle, with both sides ticked off at us for not using our illusory media muscle to get their message across and the result they want.

It is ugly and I frankly want no part of it. I will happily run things as letters to the editor if they won’t get me in legal trouble. That is a space for opinion and is fair ball. But to go much beyond that is, let’s say, problematic.

Another quick note: I’ve said this before. I am continually asked what taxi plates are selling for and whether it is a good idea to buy or sell at current prices. Geez.

I do not regularly ask MLS what the average selling price is over the past year. Or what recent sales have been. Sometimes in transfers between members of a family the selling price can be $1. This screws up running averages and distorts the overall picture. Plus the people asking are just being lazy. They can make the call to MLS as easily as I can.

Sometimes when I am out and about I will ask industry members what plates are selling for and will get a number or a range that is usually reasonably reliable, as long as extra payments are not being made under the table, which I am told sometimes happens. But I certainly cannot prove it does happen, so that’s just another reason I don’t get involved in any way.

I tell people any number I give them is not official so take it with a grain of salt.

What they are really asking for, of course, is investment advice. Hell will freeze over before I suggest what people should do with their money. Not going to happen. I start by being polite and explaining why I don’t do the advice thing but if, as sometimes happens, they persist or even insist, I tend to get a bit stroppy. So please don’t ask.

Third, I occasionally have people tell me I know “everything” that is going on. Ridiculous. I don’t. I know what people tell me and what I have personally researched. As part of this, I “know” what the person has told me, but that is frequently only one side of a story and may not even be factually correct.

The bane of my existence is having someone call me the day before we go to press about some hot story and there is no way on Earth I can effectively research it in time for the next issue. Yet people don’t seem to understand this.

So please be advised: I have limited resources and people do not always immediately call me back when I am checking out a story. It can take hours, days or sometimes longer to verify facts and get knowledgeable comment. Stories do not appear overnight. So please do understand this and allow us time to do our jobs.

Ditto for advertisers. Every now and then a last minute advertiser will call and expect us to throw out hours, or days of work to fit in a small ad. Not likely to happen.

One guy a few years ago wanted us to redo a finished and delivered paper to get his ad in for that month. I told him sure, we could do it. But he’d have to pay for the initial print run, and for two people to come in and redo the paper, plus our delivery costs, plus the cost of the ad, and money up front, please. He decided to hold off. Good decision. The point is we have deadlines for solid reasons. We can only hope people respect them.

On another matter of serious interest to the industry, I see City Council passed a motion to have staff examine ways to get For Hire Vehicle drivers on all platforms (brokerage and app) to be better trained.

Council also wants better reporting of safety statistics for app-based drivers.

This is all very nice and politically correct but I seriously wonder how much effect it will have. Council did not tell Municipal Licensing and Standards to reinstitute a mandatory training program.

So it is not unreasonable to forecast staff coming back to Council (or the new committee replacing Licensing and Standards) with the decision that these questions will be dealt with as part of the ongoing review, and Centennial College has a voluntary program now which is just fine, and privacy legislation prevents the City from delving into the records of app-based PTC drivers. And they could also say that with some 71,000-plus app-based drivers registered, and 14,000-plus taxi drivers, it is not possible to train them all.

So I’m not getting all excited about this news just yet.

I will get excited when and if Council shows some backbone and unequivocally gives staff clear and simple marching orders to ensure all FHV drivers are properly trained.

I wish all of you and your families a very happy New Year. May it be safe and profitable.


2019 Taxi News


Duffy's Domain

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