Taxi drivers in Charlottetown will soon have to display their picture IDs in a prominent place and offer customers debit and credit card options.
Charlottetown city council had its taxi bylaw first reading at its regular public monthly meeting on Monday night with some amendments that are designed to tighten up the bylaw.
“(Also) we’d like the taxi drivers in Charlottetown to have some training in terms of where some landmarks are in the city, just to get familiar with the city and the layout before they start operating their taxi,’’ said Coun. Jason Coady, chairman of the city’s protective and emergency services committee.
The Charlottetown Port Authority will supply the training.
“We’ve had some complaints. I don’t want to say there are major issues, but this is trying to be proactive. The industry has been great all through this process with us, and they agree with a lot of recommendations the committee is making.’’
The city set up a task force last year to update and address some of these issues. Taking part are city council, the Tourism Industry Association, Charlottetown Port Authority, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlottetown Airport Authority, the city’s Youth Advisory Board and Deputy Police Chief Brad MacConnell.
Inconsistency when it comes to charging fares has been another complaint the task force has looked into.
“This is an ongoing issue,’’ Coady said. “It’s trying to get something that is fair for the users and the taxis. It is something that is still being talked about. We want to make sure residents and visitors are being treated fairly by taxis.’’
MacConnell said solving the fare issue isn’t easy.
“I can tell you from multiple conversations through our committee that it’s a complicated issue,’’ the deputy chief said. “There’s many sides to this story, and the industry has some points that they’ve made, (but) we certainly haven’t closed the door on those discussions.’’
MacConnell is hoping the public monitors the changes once they go into effect, which should be after second and final reading at next month’s council meeting.
“We’re asking that the public monitor and provide feedback. Also, I think we’ve engaged the taxi owners at a new level, really putting some emphasis on them to help us enforce these rules.’’
Zac Murphy, a board member with the youth advisory group that helped launch this process two years ago, said it’s a great start.
“We’re continuing on with conversations and, hopefully, we’ll be moving forward with some amendments, but we did feel it is a good first step in the right direction in addressing some of the issues that were brought forward a couple of years ago.’’
Murphy said simply having the taxi driver’s licence and picture displayed on the dashboard is a step in the right direction to making passengers feel safer.
“In terms of the perception of safety we feel that having the taxi driver’s licence displayed all in the same place, no matter what . . . is a big one, and we’re happy to see that.’’
Despite the fact that the consistency of fares remains an outstanding issue, Murphy is glad to see that cabs will now be able to issue receipts.
“If there are issues, they know how much they paid for the cab; they can refer back to that.’’