New Calgary taxi rules bring new market entrants, slashed prices
The new bylaw came into effect April 4 and is making waves in the industry
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A fair fare, and new options are coming to Calgary as the new taxi bylaw comes into effect.
According to Mario Henriques, Calgary's chief livery inspector, it won't be long until new Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) launch in Calgary.
On April 4, the city officially dropped a new livery bylaw, approved by council in Februrary. So far there have been four applications from Alberta-based TNCs to operate.
"There's some interest out there," Henriques said. "We're excited. These are new opportunities for Calgarians."
New companies have to submit an application to the city and have it, along with an app, approved. Then, individual drivers can apply with a background check, mechanical inspection, and proof of insurance.
It's going to take some time before Calgarians see new companies on the road.
One of the biggest challenges thus far is still finding an affordable insurance policy for the TNC model. As it stands, the province is still working on regulations and insurance, both anticipated to roll out this summer.
"There's companies we're talking to that are waiting for the insurance product to roll out and the regulations from the province," Henriques said. "That's the greatest cost and hurdle to the drivers."
That's where Uber chimes in to say: I told you so. The company has been advocating for a change in the bylaw since it was announced – and Uber pulled out of Calgary. They said the new bylaw is too cumbersome for TNC operations because most of their employees work part-time and can't afford the fees.
"It's really sad for me to see this is the day the regulation comes into effect, and of course ridesharing can't come to the city," said Ramit Kar, General Manager for Uber Alberta. "We're hoping that Calgary will decide to take another look at this whole issue."
The city and Uber are still having conversations and Henriques said the bylaw isn't completely set in stone; the city is still reviewing it.
"This isn't an absolutely done deal, we're prepared to adjust to the new models" he said.
Existing taxi companies competing for fares
It's not quite business as usual for existing cab brokers.
The bylaw allows for companies to set new meter rates, name prices for rides when using the app and it also waives the minimum limousine charges – to name a few changes.
Currently most of Calgary's cab companies have apps, but they all need to be approved by the city before they're allowed to cash in on some of the perks of the new Taxi and Limousine Bylaw.
One company out ahead of the fleet is Associated Cab, who had their app approved and announced they'll be slashing prices to attract riders.
"We're going down 12 per cent for taxi and limousine," said Roger Richard, president of Associated. "Fuel prices have gone down drastically and we're also facing the economic downturn in this province. We feel we can do more for less."
Richard added drivers will have to work harder, but he's confident they can attract more users with a discounted rate.
But for other companies today is just an ordinary one. Kurt Enders, president of Checker Transportation Group, said they are still sussing the new bylaw out.
"We're evaluating everything that the new bylaw presents to us," Enders said. "We're looking at rate changes, we're looking at a whole bunch of stuff. As of right now we haven't done anything."