As fuel prices hit new records over the weekend, taxi and carpool drivers have also seen fares rise in recent months, with councils and businesses approving higher fares and adding temporary surcharges.
Cities across the country are seeing their respective transit authorities raise taxi fares to help drivers hit by two years of the pandemic and the recent frenzy over gas prices, as well as other costs.
This includes municipalities from Halifax and Cape Breton to Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto.
In some cases, base fares have not increased for years.
Last week, the Quebec transport commission also announced that it would increase taxi fares
“It probably affects taxi drivers more than a normal person in the community,” Mohan Kang, president of the BC Taxi Association, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview Sunday.
Unlike an individual who, if he is able, can simply leave his car in the garage, taxi drivers do not have this luxury.
“The taxi industry is an essential service here now and has been especially so during COVID-19,” Kang said. “For us, we have to be on the road to serve the communities. »
Last March, the BC Passenger Transportation Board approved a 5.3% increase in cost-indexed fares for taxis.
The increase is based on the consumer price index, as well as the price of gasoline.
“At that time, it was welcome because anything that helps us mitigate rising gas prices would help the taxi driver,” Kang said.
“But since then, gasoline prices have continued to evolve and fluctuate. »
British Columbia has on average one of the highest gasoline prices in Canada.
Kang says the only other option they have is to apply for a gasoline surcharge, which even then requires approval from the Passenger Transport Commission and is not guaranteed.
For now, he says they continue to monitor the situation around gasoline prices.
In Kingston last month, taxi drivers spoke out against a proposed fare increase, with some saying it would hurt their competitiveness with ride-sharing companies.
The local taxi commission then reduced the increase.
When it comes to fares, Kang says there must be a level playing field for taxis and ride-sharing companies, but operators must also stay alive.
“It won’t last too long because no business person, especially the small entrepreneurs, who are taxi drivers, can afford to pay out of pocket to serve,” he said.
Some governments have proposed or implemented temporary freezes on the collection of provincial gasoline taxes.
Alberta did so in March and Ontario is expected to see its freeze take effect in July.
The world’s two best-known ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are also adjusting to record gas prices. Each announced new fuel surcharges in March.
Uber has added an additional 50 cents on each ride and 35 cents on select Uber Eats deliveries.
All extra money goes directly to drivers and delivery people.
On May 19, the company announced that it would extend the gas surcharge until June 15 for deliveries and until further notice for rides.
Uber also says it is working to encourage the use of electric vehicles, with incentives planned for drivers who make the switch.
“It is important to say that this surcharge is temporary and designed to try to maintain high profits during this difficult time,” the company said in a statement at the time of the announced changes.
“We plan to listen to your feedback and will continue to review gasoline prices to determine if we need to make any additional changes. Drivers and deliverers will be notified if the temporary fuel surcharge is adjusted in the future. »
Lyft has added a 55-cent fuel surcharge to each ride, which also goes to drivers.
Drivers of electric vehicles receive the same supplement. Lyft says it will remain in effect until further notice.