Yellow Cabs presents to Council ahead of public hearing

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Ahead of the public hearing for Yellow Cabs, a cab company based out of Grande Prairie looking to enter the market in Fort St. John, an in-depth presentation was shown to Mayor and Council in Monday’s regular meeting.Assistant Manager of the company Navi Thundal said the application process began in May 2015. And, it could take even longer for another company to enter the market if Yellow Cabs is rejected.“Considering the economy here, we feel that, evidently, if we were to get rejected, the residents of Fort St. John are the ones who will eventually suffer,” she told council.- Advertisement -“They will have to wait another two or three years in order for another taxi company — another applicant interested — to get to this point.”Thundal says, despite facing 12 other competitors in the Grande Prairie market, her company serves over 75 per cent of the city’s residential and commercial business.She drew a parallel comparison between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John’s cab markets — claiming that the 13,000 residents of Dawson Creek are served by 29 plates, while the 23,000 citizens of Fort St. John are served by 21. When the math is done, Thundal says thats 448 residents to one taxi in Dawson Creek, and 1095 to one taxi in Fort St. John.Advertisement “If they don’t want to pick option A, they should go to option B. They should have a choice.”And with that kind of choice, Thundal asserts, would come benefits for the community and its residents.According to her presentation, Yellow Cab’s drivers wouldn’t work based on commission — and therefore would be bringing home 30 to 55 per cent more than what they make currently with a fixed lease system.She says the company would also offer discounts for seniors and students and lowered flat rates.Following the end of the presentation, Mayor Lori Ackerman told the applicant that they had made it clear to the Passenger Transportation Board their stance on Yellow Cabs application.Advertisement Teco Taxi Manager Tag Gill said in his presentation that their company has seen a downward turn in business, and cited the economy as a reason for this.Thundal says the economy in Fort St. John isn’t an isolated case of a downturn — nor is it a reason for her company to back off on entering the market.“It’s a nation-wide level,” she said. “It’s something we’re all going through. We personally feel its not a reason why there shouldn’t be another business allowed to open up. Especially in the taxi industry, where its a service.”While Thundal said residents have voiced their desire to see a new choice in the market, she made clear that Yellow Cabs isn’t looking to drive anyone out of the market, either.“We are in favour of healthy competition, we don’t wish to move anyone out of business. We just want to have a fair service and make sure everyone is doing their part,” she said.Advertisement If Yellow Cabs entered Fort St. John’s market, the city would have 41 taxi plates altogether serving the population of that size — lowering the ratio to 560 people to one vehicle.“We do feel, personally, it is time to welcome another taxi service here in town.”Teco Taxi made a presentation to council in February, showing statistics that indicate their wait times have improved and they have provided more vehicles on the road.However, Thundal says Yellow Cabs has received many complaints and concerns to the contrary about the existing taxi service. Some of the complaints cite long wait times, rude customer service, no dispatch answer, condition of taxi cabs, drivers smoking in units, expensive flat rates, and lack of taxis as some of the drivers behind support for Yellow Cabs.Advertisement “I’ve spoken to the chair there about the issues the city is having, and I think they’re fairly aware of the concerns over the years we’ve had,” she said.The City Council has agreed previously to send correspondence to the Board stating that the City is in need of more taxis, but declined to support any particular company on this front.Councillors continued to ask a few more questions for more details. Councillor Byron Stewart asked about the screening process Yellow Cabs uses to hire drivers, and Thundal confirmed that they have a national safety certificate from B.C. — and intend to follow all applicable bylaws.“There will not only be criminal record checks done, but there will be face-to-face interviews done to make sure we pick the right employee to give safe rights,” she replied to his question.Councillor Bruce Christensen inquired about the number of drivers the company intends to see driving their number of plates. She said the company would typically deploy 10 drivers during the day, and 10 during the night, with more or less on the road depending on slow periods and peak hours.Yellow Cabs is the first cab company to make it to the public hearing round in Fort St. John’s market, and only the second B.C. applicant in six years to do so.The public hearing of Yellow Cabs application started on Monday, March 21 at the Pomeroy Hotel. It runs for three days, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.last_img read more

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