Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Bus firm wants more cash

Peter Crnogorac
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 22/06) - Cardinal Coach Lines, owner of the city's bus system, will be asking council for more money due to rising service costs, according to a letter to council.

The company blames rising fuel costs and drivers' wages for its situation. It made a similar request last year, but was denied an additional $45,000.

Cardinal owner Gerry Weber, said at the time, the request was to be a one-time injection on top of the contract the company signed with the City of Yellowknife.

The new proposal is similar, according to Coun. Dave McCann. And, if his stance on the issue is to be used as a measurement, Cardinal's outcome will be the same this year.

"It's going to be interesting," McCann said. "I know they're under cost pressure, but they did sign a contract with the city."

McCann added he believes all areas in the city's service sector must restrain costs and spending.

"My initial response will be, 'Convince me,'" he said.

"My philosophy and position has always been, as a city we should constantly try to reduce costs and increase service levels."

When Cardinal approached the city last year for the $45,000 on top of its three-year contract, it said it was facing labour difficulties because drivers were paid $16 an hour - $3 less then what the company was paying its Alberta drivers.

"With respect to driver wages, we have been required to provide increases for both 2004-05 and 2005-06 that are double the rate adjustment of our contract the City of Yellowknife has provided us," states a portion of a letter read to council on Feb. 20, 2005.

"No one would have contemplated the increase in fuel costs of the past 18 months."

Yellowknife's two school boards also refused Cardinal the $45,000 at the same time council did in 2005, but after a near strike last September they agreed to work with the company to raise the funds.

Coun. Mark Heyck was part of the last council that denied Cardinal's request in 2005.

"I haven't seen the agenda yet," he said on Friday, "but their request is probably similar to the last one."

Heyck said that extra funds may be hard to justify.

Weber did not return calls to Yellowknifer by press time. Neither did representatives of the local Cardinal office.