Taxi licenses shouldn’t be further restricted

Below is a letter I sent to Regional Council on behalf of TriTAG. See the December 11 agenda of the Licensing and Retail Committee for the referenced report.

Dear Council,

We were dismayed to learn of the staff recommendation at Licensing and Retail Committee for the taxi-cab license ratio of 1:1650 to be reduced to 1:1850. This is based on an industry request and would result in the issuance of no new taxi licenses for approximately the next 10 years based on current population projections for Waterloo Region. It would be a setback for the urbanization and transportation goals of the Region of Waterloo.

The recommendation follows a request from the Taxi Association, which claims their request is the result of current taxi providers experiencing decreasing revenues, a situation which they curiously expect will worsen as the population continues to rise. They justify this concern by citing “newer communities such as Deer Ridge, Eastbridge, and Doon South [which] have 2 or 3 cars in the driveways,” concluding that “these areas do not use taxi service very much.”

However, thanks to the reurbanization policy in Waterloo Region, the next 100,000 residents to this community will live much more urban lifestyles than current residents in the Region do now. In fact, the Region is already making excellent progress towards its urbanization and intensification targets. Taxis are a vital part of urban transport and are important in ensuring that more urban and less car-dependent lifestyles are easy and enjoyable for residents. Restricting access to taxis at this point in time runs counter to the rest of the Region’s urbanization goals. Simply put, the next 100,000 residents to this community will be more likely – not less – to require taxi services than the 500,000 residents before them.

In order to support the Region’s urbanization goals, it is important to ensure that the barriers to entry into the taxi market are not prohibitive to new service providers, ones who will seek to compete in our rapidly urbanizing community by delivering innovations and improvements in service. Conversely, decreasing the per-capita number of taxis on the road only serves to restrict customer choice, and only benefits those who currently hold licenses by making those licenses an artificially high-priced commodity for those who are eager to enter the market. Reducing the taxi-cab ratios serves a rent-seeking interest of existing taxi companies, but does nothing to benefit the residents of this Region.

More taxis means greater competition, which leads to better innovation, and ultimately more and better choices for residents. The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group asks that the Region of Waterloo Council should disregard the Taxi Association’s request to reduce the taxi-cab ratio, in the interest of increasing, rather than limiting, transportation choice, and in order to continue to support its own densification and urbanization goals.

6 thoughts on “Taxi licenses shouldn’t be further restricted”

  1. A very good letter. It’s unbelievable that the region is in the business of restricting the supply of taxis at all, to say nothing of tightening restrictions even further. You’ve inspired me to write a blog post of my own. (Forthcoming.)

    Any suggestions as to what an average resident can do to make her voice heard? (e.g. whom to e-mail.) I may also write a letter to the Record about this.

    I’m glad to see TriTAG expanding its scope beyond LRT transit. I’m also glad to see TriTAG speaking good sense. Good on you.

  2. Thanks, Gus. Regional Council and specifically those on the Licensing and Retail Committee are a good contact.

    I actually spoke today at the committee meeting. In fact, the Committee voted to take no action on the taxi ratios. Staff and Council are quite happy to have gotten input from the community on this (usually it is only industry feedback), and sound like they may be interested in rethinking the overall approach.

  3. I own a cab in this region. The population number is wrong for this region. According to the free press of the Record. Could be off as much as 20,000. Business has dropped, gas prices up, insurance up (1999 was $1600 a year, now, $43,000 a year. Students have bus pass with tuition. Cambridge and other community taxis are working here now. What do you guys want. I just came home from my shift and made $ 157 for 12 hours of work on a Saturday night. City Staff recommended a reasonable raise in the ratio. You know, the staff that works for them and our community. Soon I will sell my share to a person who may be new to this Country. Have some patience with him while he learns the language and culture of Canada. He will live in his car though, because that will still be better than where he came from.

  4. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I want to make clear that the position TriTAG offered to Council should in no way be interpreted as an indictment of taxi companies or drivers making money. I strongly believe that the industry can make a profit while also meeting the needs of citizens. However, if the problem we are attempting to fix is one of nightly or weekly revenue, it’s not clear to me why adjusting license ratios should be the preferred mechanism to do so.

  5. Branden

    I like to thank you for your thoughts on the ratio debate. I like to tell you some facts on the taxi industry. The ratio is base on the region population. Not on the Tri-city (Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge). Where the four major taxi companies are base in those cities.
    Each Taxi has it’s own owner. They are not company cars. Drivers for these owners only get commission (40%). Owners pay for the insurance, gas, maintenance, and cost of operating the call center, office, and staff. Hopefully, enough money can be saved to replace the vehicle or for unforseen problems.
    The ratio that the region is using is for a city(urban only). Over 65,000 residents live in rural areas. Where taxi are not need as much or not at all. So that is almost 40 extra taxis in the Tri-City area. That’s not including all disability vans that were put on by the taxi industry in the last 2 years.
    You Speak of competition. The competition is to stay alive in SHRINKING consumer base. The taxi companies do not set the rates for the taxis. The Region does. Innovation? It’s a taxi services! They can’t compete for advertising dollars like GRT buses. Subsides for bus pass ($69/term)for all Universities students, which is mandatory. By the way, which took a large chuck of business from the taxi industry.
    The industry was asking for time to recover from the economy. Owners and drivers make less money now then 5 years ago. Operating cost keep going up. All due to decrease in customers and increase in number licences put out.
    Also, I like to point out also. A large number of residents do not work in the region. Then there is the LRT. When that comes up and running. Then what? Expect taxis owners or drivers to make below minimum wages. If you want more information, e-mail me.

  6. I look forward to a day when tech startups have put the taxis out of business.

    Taxis should be 100% electric, what year is this?

    I’ll stick to car-sharing, car-pooling, my e-bike and walking.

    When Waterloo Region starts looking forward more, I’ll consider supporting public transportation services.

    20 years and how many millions and still barely any bike lanes even!! Tech triangle of Canada, eh?

Comments are closed.