Providing the ride
What policies do cab drivers stick to when dealing with customers?

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 15/96) - If you rely on Yellowknife taxis regularly for transportation you know there are good drivers and bad drivers, just as there are good and bad customers.

Nancy Howden, president and manager of Sunshine Cabs, said rules of conduct are something drivers must establish for themselves.

"Money's money," answered Howden, when asked about a recent incident in which a customer paid a small fare in dimes.

"It depends on the driver, how they're going to react to different situations."

Howden said she knew of a driver for her company that was once paid a $10 fare in unrolled pennies -- and he accepted it. "It's a regular occurrence," she added.

Drivers for Sunshine keep their fares and pay Sunshine a flat rate. There are no limits on the number of hours a cabbie can work, said Howden. Most work a split shift, taking the afternoon off after working the morning rush hour.

Asked how he finds people in Yellowknife, City Cab driver Kosta Todorovski said, "In general they're excellent, except for Friday and Saturday night."

Todorovski said he works 15 hours a day, and that for all cabs the hassles of Friday and Saturday night are made bearable by the fact that they are the busiest times of the week.

He said problems range from drunken arguments, to unwanted instructions, such as telling drivers to run red lights or stop signs. Settling relationship disputes is another popular request.

"I'm supposed to be the judge?" asked Todorovski. "I tell them, `No, I'm not getting between you, I'm just a taxi driver.'"

The same structure is in place at City Cab, with a little more in the way of driver regulation.

"This company is owned by drivers in a shareholder-type arrangement," said manager Leslie Lancaster, adding each driver operates like a small business.

"They're not allowed to do what they want. We have company bylaws and regular regulations to standardize service," said Lancaster.

Drivers at City Cab are limited to a maximum of 18 hours a day, but the rule was put to in place more as a safety precaution, said Lancaster.