Taxi drivers mixed on optional GPS
Government plans to make GPS devices optional for taxis have drawn mixed reviews from taxi operators.
Some celebrated the move as a victory that would save operators from the monthly cost of the service, but others described the announcement as a step backward for the industry.
During the Throne Speech on Friday, Government promised it would revise legislation to make GPS optional while working with taxi owners and operators to help them become a “more effective and better coordinated group”.
Taxi operator Lee Tucker said the announcement will be warmly received by the Island’s taxi operators, many of whom have complained about the cost of purchasing and operating the units.
“This is exactly what we’ve been fighting for over the last seven or eight years,” he said. “I would say that around 80 percent of us are very much in favour of what they said they will do.
“Around 600 taxis got the GPS systems, so that’s more than a million dollars right there. Then it’s $50 a month. At this stage we are not making that kind of money so it’s an additional loss on top of everything else. That’s why we are so bitter against it.”
Explaining his dislike of the GPS system, he said: “It’s expensive and at the same time it hasn’t improved the quality of service.
“At times the GPS goes down. The signal goes down so the whole service goes down. If you are relying on that signal, it means passengers can’t get cars.”
Terrence Flood agreed, saying: “I invested in one. I paid $2,000. Never used it. Never got it working, but they forced us to get it. Most taxis did get a GPS. Some even got two.”
He praised the Government for the decision, calling it a “democratic move”.
“We taxi drivers are struggling right now,” he said. “I would like to see Government reimburse us with the money we lost. I don’t think they would do that, though. Government made this happen, but not this Government.”
However Gilbert Trott said: “I think that it’s a giant step backwards for the industry. Just hearing this news is like taking the industry back ten, 20 years.
“Having used the piece of equipment since it’s introduction I find that it’s beneficial. The majority of taxi operators are already equipped with the units.”
He also said the change in policy rewarded the minority of drivers who has skirted the law and never invested in the system.
Government passed legislation in 2005 requiring all taxi operators to have GPS units installed in their vehicles, despite the objections of many drivers.
While the operators were initially given a deadline of February 2006 to install the devices, that deadline was pushed back for more than five years due to slow adoption rates and a batch of faulty systems.
A report released last year by the Taxi Commission found that taxi operators who are not compliant should not be punished for the time being, but incentives should be put in place to adopt the technology.