'We need rules' when it comes to ride-sharing, taxi drivers say
People who've been hoping to see ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft start up in Halifax will soon have their wish.
The municipality's chief administrative officer says it should be here by this time next year and, while many potential passengers are pleased, many of those in the taxi industry are not.
Dave Buffett has been a Halifax taxi driver for more than 20 years.
He's also the president of the HRM taxi drivers' association.
He says drivers are very concerned about ride-sharing services making their way into the region.
"I don't want to see ride-sharing services, but, I don't think a ban is democratic," Buffett said. "But, I think rules are certainly necessary. In any society we need rules, so, I think the city has to implement that you have to have commercial insurance for example, you must have a criminal record check."
Buffett says the services don't offer a level playing field for taxis because they don't have the same expenses, like wear-and-tear on their vehicles and insurance.
"For example, when you get in a taxi, the meter starts at $3.20, while 45 cents of that is HST. So, yeah, on a $10 fare, $1.50 is HST and so on. So, it's difficult to compete with a company that does not, is not required to collect on the fare."
City officials say ride-sharing is all but inevitable in HRM.
While taxi drivers are opposed to the ride-hailing services, some Haligonians think it's a great idea.
"I think it would be amazing to have that," said Robin Bamber. "I know right now, like I personally don't feel 100 per cent safe in taxis and with Uber and Lyft, I'd be able to have their license plate number, their permit number, their picture, their car make, everything about them."
People who have used Uber and Lyft in other cities say it offers a good alternative to taxis and brings in healthy competition.
"It's really easy and it's really inexpensive," said Steph Grimbly, who is visiting Halifax from Toronto. "So, the fact that I, without having to talk to someone, I can push a couple buttons, someone shows up in like three minutes, I get in, generally they're very nice and polite and pleasant."
Jared Murdock, who moved here from Edmonton, says he never used to use Uber.
"I always used taxis, but I definitely see the advantage of having a service like that," Murdock said. "It just boils down to competition. Uber has requirements you have to have newer vehicles, so I noticed it really upped the standards of the taxi service in Edmonton."
It's unclear when the services may start -- although Uber says they're in contact with city officials.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Natasha Pace.