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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crabby Cabbies

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Halifax Council is poised to do away with most of the regulations on taxis, bowing to the wishes of downtown business patrons and hotel owners who, evidently, have bought into our car culture's instant gratification/car available at every conceivable instant mentality, as well as the American right wing's religious belief that the mythical "free market" will solve all problems.

Cab drivers and a handful of suburbanites, including Herring Cove councillor Steve Adams, put up a spirited defence of the existing regulations, but to no avail. The cabbies argue that deregulation will cause a glut of drivers, none of them making even minimum wage. And Adam says doing away with the present zone system will result in all the cabbies trolling downtown streets in search of fares, leaving the suburbs underserved.

In a previous life and in a distant galaxy, I drove cab for five years in a completely deregulated jurisdiction. So far as that experience goes I can tell you, the drivers and Adams are absolutely right.

The cabbies will now mob the downtown bars and hotels and the fevered battle for fares will sometimes lead to violence, often lead to even more erratic and unsafe driving and definitely lead to lower—much lower—take home pay for the drivers.

Sure, if you need a cab when you're downtown, you'll get one slightly quicker than in the past. But at what price comes that instant gratification?

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