Reeling from a slow off season, cabbies to meet with government on rates
Taxi bosses are to begin a series of crunch meetings with Transport chiefs this week in a bid to improve the industry for both drivers and their customers.
And at the top of the agenda for the Bermuda Taxi Owners/Operators Association is an effort to raise fare rates in order to increase the salaries of its members.
The taxi industry is regulated by government. Rates have not been raised since 2008, effectively putting drivers on a wage freeze for the last five years.
And after what has been described as one of the worst off-seasons in recent memory, drivers are keen to get any changes implemented as soon as possible, preferably before the new cruise ship season kicks off next month.
New BTOA president Derek Young said that many members were now struggling after a disappointing winter season.
“On top of that, our rates haven’t gone up since 2008, even though everything else including gas and maintenance has gone up,” Mr Young said, adding that the association was working to help out cabbies now on the poverty line.
“The last two years have been particularly difficult for the industry, and there are some guys who have lost their cabs because of the economic situation.
“Stepping in as president I saw the need for someone to take the industry to the next level.
“Many operators of taxis now have some sort of financial burden. I have taken steps to approach restaurants in Hamilton and they have agreed to offer discounts to any financial member of the taxi association.
“We also will be given the opportunity to have our first taxi heath insurance plan. This plan also will be offered to all of our financial members who are in good standing with our organisation.”
Mr Young also commented on concerns by some drivers that a new layout of the traffic system at Dockyard, was hampering their ability to work.
Some drivers feel the introduction of Transport Control Department officials to oversee fare pickups at the location, and a ban on vehicles lining up alongside visiting cruise liners, have left drivers worse off.
Although Mr Young blamed Government for failing to inform drivers of the new changes before they were implemented, he described the row as “a misunderstanding”.
He added that the issue will be raised in talks with Government and he was confident that at least some kinks could be ironed out.
The BTOA has also expressed concerns over GPS legislation that made the equipment mandatory, with some drivers claiming that they are now unsure of the law.
The Progressive Labour Party administration stated it would not prosecute drivers who did not comply with the law, while the new Government has said it fully intends to scrap it.
But drivers claim that TCD officers are now refusing to licence cabs that are not GPS-compliant.
“We don’t want these things dragging on and on and on and so we approached Government a few months back to see if these issues could be looked at and sorted out,” Mr Young said.
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