Taxi and limousine fares in Halifax will go up on Tuesday evening for the first time since October 2012, largely due to the price of gas.
The increase was recommended in a staff report presented to Halifax regional council on Tuesday. Fares will be raised an average of 12.1 per cent, with a greater impact on shorter trips.
Andrea MacDonald, HRM's acting director of buildings and compliance, presented the report to council. She said there have been requests from the industry and individual councillors to re-examine taxi fares.
"The recent fuel price increase is also key with regards to this, especially the latest rate increase last night, and the length of time since the last rate adjustment was completed," she said.
MacDonald said taxi rates in Halifax were below average compared to other areas and they will be slightly above average with the increase.
Taxi fares are largely made up of the initial charge, or drop rate, travel rate or charge per kilometre, and waiting time per hour.
The increase includes an initial charge of $4.70, up from $3.20, and a per-kilometre charge of $1.75, up from $1.69. The hourly waiting rate rises to $30 from $26.80.
The increases were decided on by staff after consulting the Halifax Taxi Drivers Association and individual taxi companies.
Most of the increase is loaded on the drop rate and not the per-kilometre charge.
"This will allow longer run trips to remain somewhat competitive, while ensuring the unpaid work that is a component of every fare is recouped to the extent possible," said the report.
According to the industry, the average distance of all trips is 4.7 kilometres, so most users will see an increase of around 14.58 per cent.
MacDonald said there has been a fuel surcharge option in place for taxi companies to use to recoup costs until the fare increase was voted on, but that will now be removed.
Increase 'pretty critical'
The report bypassed the regular process of going through the Transportation Standing Committee, and was presented directly to council because of the rapid rise in fuel prices.
The motion to raise fares was put forward by committee chair Coun. Waye Mason.
He said he believed it was "pretty critical" to get the issue to council as soon as possible, "given the incredible strain that the taxi industry, that the independent drivers who make up the taxi industry are finding themselves under."
But higher prices aren't just impacting taxi companies and drivers. Mason also noted the financial strain higher taxi costs will put on some people amid rising costs in all markets.
He mentioned the industry is aware of the "double-edged sword" of increasing their prices.
"Right now, they're simply not making enough money as independent drivers to be able to justify the fare," Mason said. "At the same time, they know that this could impact their industry in a different way and also temporarily drive down usage."
But he said the industry supports the raise and he believes council should support the industry.
The motion passed unanimously.
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