News / Calgary

Calgary taxi plates can fetch over $100K on legally grey market

Driving a cab catch your fancy? Be prepared to shell out tens of thousands of dollars.

Metro inquired through online ad sites to purchase three different Calgary taxi plates put up for sale in recent weeks and found in two cases the asking price was in excess of $100,000.

"You would need $100,000 for the licence and van and (also) pay another $20,000 in car payments," said one seller, who declined to give his name.

But the legality of turning a profit on one of the 1,411 transferrable taxi plates in the city appears a tad murky, given that the city actually owns the rights to each.

A representative from municipal livery transport services conceded it's likely the exchange of money occurs away from regulators' eyes before the formal transfer is legally processed.

The city was quick to note, however, that it has yet to receive a complaint about the taxi transfer market and some drivers have actually lamented the fact that 55 newly released plates are non-transferrable. In those cases, the plate is returned to the city for re-distribution, preventing any opportunity to profit.

Associated Cabs President Roger Richard said transfers would only typically occur on roughly 700 plates not owned by local brokerages like his.

Richard said, as far as he's concerned, plate prices locally aren't outlandish, adding he's heard reports of plates being sold for double Calgary's top-end amount in places like Regina and for as much as $1 million in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

But Rajiv Kapil with the Calgary Cab Drivers Association said there are many others, including himself, who fear the steep price on plates creates an unfair playing field.

"How you can you sell city property?" he questioned. "The price should be zero."

Ald. Andre Chabot said the transfer market was created as a direct result of past city council decisions and it would cost drivers dearly if exchanges were outlawed on already-existing plates.

"These drivers have paid a price for that opportunity (to drive) and they would expect to recover that cost when they're done with it," he said.

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