I would like to make some comments on the recently released KPMG report on the taxi industry in Ottawa. The report was released in late May and received some media coverage at the time.
Overall, I would say I am disappointed in some of the report's recommendations. I felt the move to a new City was a prime opportunity to revamp the industry and set it on a new footing driven by customer service.
The recommended increase of 49 licences seems remarkably small with the rapid growth of the population in the City. Given the difficulties often experienced downtown in locating a cab, I cannot help but feel this increase is way too low. I suspect a motivation of protecting the current plate owners rather than truthfully addressing the needs through market forces of supply and demand.
Insisting that the new licences be for wheelchair accessible cabs is a great idea. Having worked for two years on a federal program supporting employees with disabilities, I can recall many instances when my colleagues could not attend a meeting or an event because there was no cab capable of transporting them, and booking ParaTranspo, with little advance warning and for specific the times that a meeting demanded, was impossible.
I am pleased to see the recommendation for training incorporates elements on customer service and assisting passengers with disabilities. The rules on guide dogs and cultural issues must be included as well. I hope the training will be meaningful, valued and enforced. Just think of the customer's pleasure in knowing that whatever cab came their way they could count on a consistent, high level of service and knowledge of the geography of the City.
Establishment of one zone for the City makes very good sense. But why the delay in implementation? The taxi industry is a service industry and consumers need a system that is built to serve them, not the industry. I feel the existing zones should eliminated immediately.
I agree with the proposed age limit on cars (seven years), although I am concerned about the hardship this may present to the drivers if the horrendous system of licences is not addressed so that they do not have to pay such high monthly fees.
I guess what bugs me the most is that the KPMG report seems to be more motivated by the politics rather than the good sense of what was really needed that I detected in the Haydon report.
I look forward to the decision on the matter later this month.