Taxi fare increase in Kingston, Ont. gets pushback from local cab companies

A cab ride in Kingston, Ont. will be more expensive starting next week, but even with high gas prices, some taxi drivers say they’re against too much of a meter increase.

Kevin Murphy has been driving his Number 6 taxi for more than 30 years, and has plans to retire in the next few years.

“It’s been a lot of work, and trust me a lot of headaches, and a lot of hours,” he says “And it worries me when this is being threatened.”

He says that’s because of an upcoming planned rate hike to taxi meters.

Beginning May 13, to get into a cab and start the meter will cost 25 cents more, at $4.50, then to travel across the city every few hundred metres will be an extra $0.10.

The large increase is something Murphy says will hurt their competitiveness against ride-share companies like Uber.

“That’s going to just put us out of the price rage of our customers that are on fixed incomes,” he explains.

The Kingston-Area Taxi Commission, which regulates the taxi industry, recommended the increase to compensate for higher gas prices. 

Right now, Amey’s Taxi says figure shows that to take a cab from the Cataraqui Centre in the west end of the city into downtown, costs about $21.

Under the new rates, the cost would jump to more than $29.

In comparison, the cost of an Uber is now $24.

That’s an extra $5 for every trip, and $10 per round trip. 

Amey’s Taxi Owner Mark Greenwood says the industry supports a rate hike only half of what the transit commission has recommended. 

“We’ve dealt with two years through the pandemic, and we need to rebuild. It’s going to take two years to rebuild that,” he explains. “We think that this imposed rate hike would devastate this entire industry in the city.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the commission says it will now hold a meeting next week to review the decision ahead of the planned increase.

Murphy hopes the commission will lower the meter rate increase. 

“Customers don’t want it. The brokers don’t want it. The majority of the drivers don’t want it. We’re scratching our heads trying to figure out what’s happening here.”