City denies cab company's request to use Airdrie bus stops
Airdrie council voted to maintain status quo and prohibit private taxi cab companies from using bus stops, Oct. 15.
The move came after Avacab Taxis owner Mohamed Benini requested the City change its bylaws to allow the company to use the city’s transit zones for pick-up and drop-off for the company’s new shared-ride service. The service will allow a minimum of two customers to catch a ride from near a bus stop for a reduced rate when compared to regular taxi service.
“I am hoping they will change their mind,” said Benini. “I wanted to use their stops because they are the safest place for my customers.”
Benini said his company received Alberta Transportation approval to provide a shared-ride service with intentions to operate between Airdrie, Rocky View County and Calgary. He said the service is needed to supplement the region’s transportation service.
“I recently got a new license to operate a shared-ride service,” said Benini. “The idea was to get anybody from one bus stop in Airdrie to another in Airdrie or Balzac or the McKnight C-train station. I am trying to create an innovative transit system, and the only way to get 24-hour transit service is to use taxis.”
The City’s current traffic bylaw allows City-owned buses to stop within its zones. Private entities, such as the CrossIron Mills Mall employee shuttle and First Student Canada’s school buses, can also use the transit zones temporarily.
Benini said he feels the practice is unfair.
“They allow the CrossIron Mills bus… I don’t see why they don’t allow me,” he said.
The City’s current traffic bylaw states, “no person shall park a vehicle for any period of time in any bus zone properly marked by a sign.” Those in violation of this section are subject to an $85 fine, which is enforced by Airdrie Municipal Enforcement officers.
According to the City’s Transit Coordinator Chris MacIsaac, many of Airdrie’s 124 bus stops have recurring problems with people using them to park their vehicles.
Examples include zones in front of schools, especially at the beginning and end of the day, said MacIsaac.
“We have ticketed many vehicles in the past,” said MacIsaac. “It’s something we work very closely (on) with municipal enforcement.”
City staff recommended denying the request, citing safety concerns.
“The primary concern is the continuing safe… loading of passengers,” said MacIsaac.
After Benini formally requested the use of Airdrie’s bus zones, transit department staff told him to stop near the bus stops when picking up or dropping off customers.
However, Benini said the locations may not be safe for his customers.
Benini said his ultimate goal is to link the communities surrounding Calgary to the growing metropolis. The businessman said he has approached the City of Airdrie numerous times in pursuit of his goal to no avail.
According to Benini, the shared-ride service is one that was requested by customers and offers a reduced price.
The service costs $5 per person (with a minimum of two riders) within the Airdrie city limits.
“Most of our customers are repeat customers,” said Benini. “Not everyone can afford a taxi every day and some people rely on transportation to get to work or their appointments.”
Despite the setback, Benini said he will continue to pursue his plans.
“We have been here a long time and we plan to be here and continue to grow in the region,” he said.