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Cabbies still seek $1 fare hike

Chris Windeyer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 18/06) - Oliver Twist drives a cab these days, it seems.

Craig Dunphy, manager of Pai-Pa Taxi in Iqaluit, says his drivers are tired of asking for more, like Charles Dickens' famous waif.

"Here we are, we're down on our knees saying, 'Please sir, can we have some more soup?'" Dunphy said.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Pai-Pa Taxi manager Craig Dunphy says it's time his cabbies got a raise. He's been asking since April for the city to hike cab fares from $5 to $6 per ride. - Chris Windeyer/NNSL photo

The city hasn't responded to Dunphy's April letter asking for an increase. A second letter Dunphy sent in November was read into the minutes at the council meeting Dec. 11, but councillors opted to put off discussion of the increase until the new taxi committee meets in the new year.

A taxi ride in the capital costs five dollars per person, to any destination in town. With rising costs - prices for gasoline and electricity have both made steep jumps this year - Dunphy said it's increasingly difficult for cabbies to make a living.

"They have to work that many more hours just to make ends meet," he said. "Per shift (drivers are) paying $20 per tank more for gas this year than they were two years ago."

Driver Mathieu Rene said he works six or seven days per week and 10 hours a day, often until as late as 5 a.m. on weekends. The Montreal native likes his job and likes Iqaluit, but rising costs make it tough to earn a living, he said.

"It's lots of work."

The last time the city raised cab fares was 2004, when the rate from went from $4.50 to $5.

Cabbies also staged a brief strike in 2001.

Dunphy said drivers aren't ruling anything out, but suggested a work-to-rule campaign might come before another strike. That could involve cabbies refusing to carry groceries or luggage straight to the door.

Deputy mayor Al Hayward, who missed Dec. 11's meeting and is new to the taxi committee, said it's "unfortunate" the last council didn't reply to Dunphy's April letter.

"Council should be looking at taxi rates on an annual basis as the bylaw provides," Hayward said.

A date hasn't yet been set for the taxi committee's meeting in the new year.