The B.C. government is cutting the annual $100-per-vehicle taxi licensing fee in half to help offset losses related to COVID-19, but smaller taxi companies say the change is unfair.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced the drop to a $50 fee on Monday, and put in place a licence fee cap of $5,000 where there was previously none.
For example, a company with 300 vehicle licences would have paid $30,000 each year in the past. Now, the total is capped at $5,000. A smaller company with just 40 vehicles, conversely, would go from paying $4,000 to $2,000.
The B.C. Taxi Association, which represents many companies outside Vancouver, said the reduction is appreciated but does no level the playing field.
President Mohan Kang said the province should work the Passenger Transportation Board and get rid of boundaries for taxis in Metro Vancouver.
Currently, cab drivers can only pick up in the municipality where their licence originates. This means drivers are “dead-heading,” or returning to their own municipality with an empty vehicle after dropping off a fare in a different community.
Trevena disagreed that the fee changes benefit larger companies more than smaller ones, saying the province wants to be consistent.
The taxi industry, like all service-based industries, has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the province was in the midst of reviewing the sector as part of its long-awaited approval of ridesharing. One of the suggestions was to get rid of the regional boundaries.
Trevena said she will not interfere with the independent Passenger Transportation Board, which she said needs that regional data.
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