Airdrie cab company says Calgary's rules unfair
Ava Cab representatives to appear in court over unpaid fines
The owner of an Airdrie taxi company is protesting the bylaw that fined two drivers $1,500 each for picking up local residents in Calgary.
In December, Ava Cabs dropped off eight Airdrie residents at a Christmas party in Calgary.
When they later went to pick up the residents, they were charged for breaking a Calgary bylaw that prohibits out-of-town cab companies from working in the city.
“We are hoping to not pay the tickets and see a change so we can send drivers to pick up Airdrie residents in Calgary without a hassle,” said Mohammed Benini with Ava Cabs. “People are complaining that we don’t have (enough) cabs, but they are stopping the cabs for something that is not right.”
Benini said the drivers have not paid the fines. Representatives of the company are also appearing before a judge in Calgary on Aug. 1 to fight the charges.
Benini said he is also hoping to appear before Calgary City council for an explanation of why the rules exist.
“This doesn’t happen anywhere else,” he said. “I see them as bullying us.”
Benini said Airdrie residents are inconvenienced by the City’s bylaws as they are forced to wait for a Calgary taxi. The wait can often be long, he said, as there is a shortage for cabs in the city.
“We are reducing our services,” said Benini. “It makes us lose business and it is promoting other alternatives to cabs.”
Benini said Calgary-based cabs are allowed to pick up Airdrie residents within the city.
“It’s not fair,” he said. “I believe that it is Airdrie residents that are at stake.”
Jodi Hughes, licensing coordinator with the City of Calgary, disagreed saying drivers operating within the municipality are required to have a licence issued by that municipality.
She also said those disobeying this bylaw are subject to a $1,500 fine.
Hughes said the rule is to protect the safety of travellers.
“(We) have a mandate to ensure the safety, consumer protection and service quality of the travelling public.”
According to Hughes, Calgary’s 1,400 taxi cabs are required to meet vigorous vehicle safety checks. Taxi drivers, of which there are about 4,000 in Calgary, must complete a driver training course and criminal background check before they can obtain their licence.
The City of Airdrie’s Chief License Inspector Colleen Kinley said a similar bylaw exists in the smaller municipality.
“Unless you are licensed in that particular city, you can’t pick up,” she said.
Kinley said Calgary cab drivers who pick up customers in Airdrie may be subject to a $1,500 fine.
Calgary City council tabled a decision to add 55 new taxi licences, May 7.
The issue is expected to be brought back to Calgary council at the end of the month.