To: EPS Committee Members & By-Law Staff
From: Taxi Dispatch Companies namely:
Blue Line Taxi Company, DJ’s Taxi Company, Capital Taxi Company, West-Way Taxi Company, and Airport Taxi Company
Date: August 24th, 2005
This is a joint submission by the taxi companies on recommended By-Law changes in the City of Ottawa:
1. Number of Plates to be Authorized
We agree with staff’s recommendations, however with respect to the way in which new accessible plates are issued, we propose a pilot project in which half the new plates issued are to be distributed to drivers via the existing lottery list, and the other half are issued temporarily to the brokers.
This approach would address the ongoing concerns of poor service being provided to the accessible community. The plates issued to brokers are only to be managed and this will allow the city to compare service levels achieved from the two pools of plates. The pilot project would last 5 years.
2. Taximeter Rates and Frequency of Increases
We agree with staff’s recommendations that increases should take place once per year based upon the TCI, if warranted.
3. Transfer Fees
We agree to staff’s proposal for a reduced fee. In the case of a transfer between immediate family members (father, mother, siblings), there should be no charge.
4. Driver Standards
A strong, workable, enforceable and reasonable set of rules would help in improving our taxi service. There are a small group of drivers that affect the reputation of all others. We recommend a dedicated Taxi Inspections. This way issues are adjudicated by an independent enforcement agency and not between companies, unions and drivers.
5. Vehicle Standards
To retain standards, the owner of the taxi plate must own or lease the taxicab and attach their taxi plate to that vehicle.
6. Age of Vehicles
We agree with staff proposals and are amenable to a maximum age of vehicle being seven years, with use as taxicab limited to 5 years.
Attention should be given to the quality of the roof-top sign, driver behaviour, driver attire, and all other by-laws.
8. Appearance of Cabs
We agree with staff’s recommendations regarding numbers on the side of the taxis, additionally, we believe the name of the branded taxi company must be on two doors, and should not be any smaller than 8” x 6” and no larger 24” x 12”. These door decals must be of a quality that are not pealing, and must be replaced if warranted during meter checks.
9. GPS and Surveillance Cameras.
We agree with staff’s recommendations that Global Positioning Systems and cameras are essential to providing a safer, more reliable experience for taxi clients.
We also support the adoption of a surcharge on the meter rate in order to pay for, and maintain the new equipment. These funds must only be directed for the use and maintenance of the required equipment and software.
The GPS equipment and cameras has to be owned and supplied by the dispatch companies in order to operate the fleets and maintain the standards.
The GPS system must be approved by the City and fully maintained by the taxi dispatch company. For safety and consumer protection, the dispatch company has to be able to verify details regarding job bookings, and allocation of work to specific cabs with respect to location of the cabs. This information should be available to the City upon request.
The dispatch system records need to only be retained for a maximum of 180 days.
Taxi dispatch companies would only use GPS records for allocation of work, tracking of a taxicab during an emergency, and verifying complaints.
The in-vehicle cameras must meet a common standard set by the dispatch company in order to maintain and replace consistent equipment. The extraction of images captured will be the responsibility of the dispatch companies.
10. Snow Tires Nov 1st to Apr 15th
Agree with staff recommendation.
11. First Aid Kit
It is our view these are only required for Accessible Taxicabs, with the responsibility of the vehicle owner to maintain the kit and ensure it is well stocked.
12. Fire Extinguisher
Not necessary except for rear entry Accessible Taxicabs. There is a potential of passenger entrapment if the rear door is blocked by a parked car.
13. Display of Passenger Right and of Driver Bill of Rights
Agree with staff proposals.
14. Accessible Cab Identification & Accessible Logo
The present requirements are good.
15. Taxi Advisory Committee
Agree with staff proposals but request that there be a balance. The union representative and one other owner-driver representative on one side, and the taxi dispatch companies having two representatives as a counter balance.
16. Reciprocal Agreement with Gatineau
We feel there is a great deal to be gained from having an inter-jurisdictional task force. The aim has to be a formalized separate “Agreement” which allows an Ottawa cab to pick-up in Quebec for transporting the passenger back to Ottawa and a Quebec licensed cab to pick-up in Ottawa for transport back to Quebec.
17. Driver GST
This is actually covered by section 8 (30) of the proposed new by-law where a receipt is to have the driver and broker GST number. We agree with the City proposal.
18. Taxicabs to Use Dispatching Service
The following are requested for Consumer protection and safety:
I. Belong to a Taxi Dispatch Service – Accountability Factor
All taxicabs must belong to a taxi dispatch service, and the taxi companies must be obligated to provide the general information on drivers and record of employment (tenure).
II. No shadow dispatching
This should be illegal, with heavy fines applied if the taxi companies can verify that allocated work was passed-on to other taxicabs.
III. Identity Code for each Driver (not taxicab)
Many taxi companies operate with a vehicle code, and not a specific driver code. Drivers and unions encourage this for less accountability and more difficulty in assessing the amount of time each driver works. As movers of the public, every driver must be accountable for the work done by that driver. A driver should not be able to sign-on without having a driver ID. Taxi companies should be given time to change their systems – 2008
19. Taxi Dispatch Companies/Brokers
I. Retention of Dispatch Log Records
Taxi companies must be able to provide detailed logs of vehicle activity by time on the offering and accepting of specific jobs by specific taxi drivers.
II. Liability insurance of $5 Million Minimum
Required for any operator. Insurance companies are recommending greater protection for companies and drivers due to potential claims.
Fines have to be established and documented for shadow dispatching, use of cell phones while driving, bandit operators, over-charging, refusing to take credit cards, refusing service or rude behaviour.
21. Accessible Taxicabs
An Accessible Taxicab must accept accessible jobs, and failure to take work must lead to reasonably effective penalties being applied by taxi companies to enable the work to be covered quickly.
Any Accessible Taxicab must be registered with a large (over 50 taxicab) operation. We have been advised that Accessible taxicabs have been known to book-off at busy hours, and take able-bodied people picked up off the street to avoid long driving times
To get full utilization of these vehicles at most hours of the day and night , it is recommended that all accessible taxicabs operate on a shift basis with at least two drivers, and not necessarily requiring a driver to be an owner of the taxi plate.
22. Shuttle Services and Private Vehicle Transfer Services
Shuttle services of less than seven passengers must be licensed by the city under the taxi by-law, and should operate within tight rules and regulation – similar to taxi regulations. Shuttle Services need to be clearly defined and should undergo inspections similar to taxis.
Vehicle transfer services such as those provided by companies like “Responsible Choice” or “Keys Please” must be regulated under the same taxi by-laws, and must operate with authorized taxi plates for service. Taxi companies have always offered the same services.
23. Debit Card Usage
Dispatch companies offering debit card processing should be able to levy a nominal service surcharge (currently averaging $1.50 today in many cities).
24. Customer Tariff Cards
· These inserted in taxicabs must have a City complaints phone number
· The card must state that drivers have to accept credit cards
TAXI BY-LAWS – ACCESSIBILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE - PRESENTATION
Good morning! I am here as Chair of the Accessibility Advisory committee to speak on the proposed new taxi by-laws. We as a committee have had an excellent presentation by Susan Jones, and have had opportunity to discuss the proposed by-laws. We wish to offer our very strong support for the package, and in particular wish to comment on the following:
We commend the work done on this new taxi by-law proposal. It indicates an appropriate measure of sensitivity and understanding for the needs of persons with disabilities. It builds accessibility into the service in a seamless manner. It moves closer to meeting the requirements of the new Provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, proclaimed law in July, 2005. It will make the City of Ottawa a frontrunner in providing accessible service to all citizens, and will move the city closer to the 20/20 Vision of a city for all its citizens.
The Accessibility Advisory Committee supports this proposed new taxi by-law package, and will be recommending that City Council adopt it in its entirety. We would encourage Emergency and Protective Services to move it forward to City Council with their strong endorsement.
I would be happy to address any questions or concerns now.
DISABLED AND PROUD (Representative: Charles Matthews) - By-law Recommendations
(1) Supports staff recommendation of 40 new accessible plates a year, equaling 160 new accessible plates by 2009
(2) Supports proposed new regulations mandating brokers and taxi drivers provide priority service to persons with disabilities
(3) Supports mandatory accessible training for all new taxi drivers
(4) Supports use of rear loading accessible vans
(5) Supports introduction of GPS in all taxi vehicles - ensure disabled service is provided on priority basis
(6) Supports staff recommendation of prohibiting $10 "special service" surcharge for an accessible vehicle or additional services for a disabled passenger
(7) Taxi industry desperately needs more qualified accessible taxi drivers to meet service demand
Total of eight (8) comments received from members of the public
§ One (1) resident commented that more licensed taxicabs were required for the City of Ottawa, also commented that license fees should be lowered
§ One (1) resident requested increased By-law enforcement/Police enforcement of municipal and provincial regulations as they pertain to the taxi industry
§ Three (3) respondents stated a need for an increase in the number of accessible taxicabs and qualified accessible drivers. Further request for the strengthening of regulations to ensure priority service for persons with disabilities
§ One (1) respondent stated improvements to the initial training course were required and that re-fresher/re-training was required for existing taxi drivers
§ One (1) respondent suggested a reduction in taxicab license fees
§ One (1) respondent commented that the current taxi vehicle dimensions within the current regulations should be amended to permit to permit smaller two (2) passenger vehicles/low emissions vehicles such as the “smart car”
Total of nine (9) comments received from individual industry stakeholders
§ Both support and opposition to one zone
§ Opposed to the immediate issuance of any new taxi plates, industry input required prior to any future plate issuance
§ Current age of vehicles to restrictive – vehicle age limits must be extended
§ Comment stating only one (1) driver (owner) should be permitted to operate accessible taxicab
§ Comment that Ambassador Taxicab program is obsolete
§ Suggested/Requested that Chief License Inspector powers be amended to remove the ability of Chief License Inspector to revoke a license
§ Requested that minimum charge (varied from $10 - $15) for credit card payment be introduced
§ Requested surcharge on all credit card payments for taxicab service
§ Requested that new provision be incorporated into new regulations that permit a driver to request a deposit from a patron prior to the commencement of trip
§ Requested modification to TAC membership – Accessible drivers require representation on Committee
§ Requested that drivers be permitted to accept U.S currency on par (no exchange rate)
§ Broker provisions within current By-laws must be strengthened to ensure brokerage companies provide priority service to disabled community
Total of two (2) responses from individuals from the disabled community
§ One (1) respondent requested that City of Ottawa taxi tariff card should include vehicle information in Braille
§ One (1) respondent stated:
- The need for increased floor space dimensions for current vehicle standard provisions in order to better accommodate guide dogs/service animals
- Stated new regulations should mandate that taxi driver should notify/advise passengers with disabilities (via phone call/knock on door) that cab has arrived.
- Regulations should also stipulate that, if so requested by a visually impaired patron, the driver must identify himself/herself verbally.
- Supports the introduction of GPS in all taxicabs – improve service/provide priority service to disabled persons.
- All By-law Enforcement Officers require sensitivity training
1. Request that current Taxi By-law Section regarding the acceptance of credit card payments be kept without amendments.
2. Addition of new by-law provision permitting a taxi driver to refuse a customer if a deposit is not provided upon the driver's request.
3. Request that the age of vehicle standards for replacement motor vehicles be amended to reflect a standard age of eight plus one (8 + 1)
4. Requests the Ambassador cab reference be completely removed from the Taxi Licensing By-law.
5. Request that Sections pertaining to the Chief Licensing Inspector and By-law Officer's powers be amended to reflect that the Chief License Inspector may not suspend any person or taxi license under any situation until the License Committee has reviewed the issue.
6. Amendment to current by-law provisions to permit a taxi driver to start the meter five minutes after arrival/or after the notification of the customer.
7. That the Taxi Advisory Committee (TAC) recommend that the Emergency and Protective Committee consider the following:
§ That the issuance of new plates be delayed until one after the implementation of the new Harmonized Taxi By-law; and
§ That discussion on the mechanism by which plates are issued be undertaken in 2006 in consultation with the TAC, with a report back to EPSC in early 2007
8.Request that the regulations covering accessible taxis provide that accessible plate owners and operators work under a dispatch system that be kept in operation (not switched off; and
(a)that priority be given by the same plate owners/operators and dispatch companies to accessible calls; and
(b) that sanctions be developed for failure to observe this By-law (apply to both drivers and companies).
9. TAC adopt in principle the following recommendation:
"That every driver, either picking up or dropping off a customer, have the right to park at restricted areas for as long as it takes the customer to get into the vehicle, or in a case where the driver is assisting the customer to his or her destination (elderly or in need)"
10. Requested that the "three zone" system be kept in place and that the change to "one zone" only be discussed once the suburban areas are in need of additional taxis.
11. TAC recommends the taximeter rate be automatically increased each year, if so warranted by movement in the taxi cost index.