Halifax taxi businesses not impacted by cabbie acquittal
Published Friday, March 17, 2017 7:01PM ADT
The recent acquittal of a driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in 2015 has dominated news coverage and sparked controversy and protests.
Despite this and a spate of other complaints alleging sexual misconduct by drivers, Halifax taxi companies say they haven’t seen a decline in business.
“The numbers show that ridership is actually up over this time last year,” said Dave Buffett, head of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association.
Halifax residents say they continue to take cabs due to a lack of other options. Ridesharing services like Uber are not available in Halifax.
Buffett says he thinks most people recognize taxis as a safe ride home, especially on a night like St. Patrick’s Day.
“It's important to know it's safe because we can't have people driving while intoxicated. Sometimes walking home is not the best answer,” said Buffett.
Buffett says he's working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada on a project to track when and where people report that they're unable to get a tax in an effort to make taxi services more efficient.
In a statement, MADD Canada says despite concerns it “continues to support and promote taxis as a highly valuable option for sober transportation. Our policy on this has not changed."
There are about four million cab rides per year in the HRM. In the past five years, there have been 14 police reports from passengers alleging sexual assault by a cab driver.
Buffett says the numbers, while small, are devastating.
Halifax council still hasn't moved to change its taxi bylaws to require cameras or GPS systems. Buffett says companies are providing more education to drivers, but that's not enough to convince everyone.
“There's a lot of stories, so I feel like I wouldn't want to be in that situation,” said Halifax resident Keziah Funk.
Some say the public attention on these cases has simply made them more cautious.
“I definitely like to sit in the back and I like to always have my phone on me,” said Halifax resident Janelle Kuipers.
HRM staff will present a report on taxi safety to council in the coming months.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.