Taxi troubles taken to Ministry

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The Tourism Fort St. John Board has launched a formal complaint to the Ministry of Transportation over inadequate service from the city’s only taxi company.

The lack of adequate service is posing several problems especially during the holiday season, says Darren Thomson, the Board’s chair.

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Thomson says the letter outlines numerous criticisms about the company and is addressed to the Passenger Transportation Branch of the Ministry, which is in charge of taxi regulation.

Some of the problems the Board outlines include long wait times to procure a taxi, unclean taxis and drivers that smoke in their vehicles. Thomson says smoking in a taxi contravenes municipal bylaws that regulate the city’s taxi industry.

He even says certain businesses have had to resort to alternative measures to address these problems.

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However, Thomson says it’s not just certain businesses that may be suffering because of the problems in the taxi industry, but the arts community as well. With the new drinking and driving laws that have come into effect, he says that not as many people are willing to venture out to various events unless they know they can secure a taxi.

Despite the problems, he says he understands that the current service provider is understaffed due to the difficulty in procuring drivers in the area. He adds that it can take several weeks for a new driver to obtain the required permits from the local RCMP.

Currently, Thomson says the company only has enough staff to operate three taxis on any given night, yet has a fleet of 15 taxis available for use.

Furthermore, he says one of the biggest problems in the city is that there are only three licences available for taxi operators and the current company in the city owns two of those licences, but operates under at least two separate names. The third licence has apparently been taken out, but he says the Board has not been able to determine who has that licence.

The operator of Fort St. John’s Teco taxi declined to comment on the situation.

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