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.
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.