Of the City of Calgary’s 1820 transferrable taxi licenses (often called medallions due to their value) 750 medallions are held by the three largest brokers in the city: Associated Cabs, Checker Cabs and Mayfair Taxi–but not one of these is attached to a wheelchair accessible van (WAV) for a variety of cock and bull excuses.
Excuse number 1: Drivers don’t have pockets deep enough to invest $55,000 in such cars because there is not enough income to support such an investment.
True, but the brokers certainly do. So why aren’t they buying the cars themselves? An investment of $4.5 million would add 83 cars to the fleet. That’s enough to meet the City’s requirement of 11% of cars that are to be WAVs.
Excuse number 2: Drivers don’t want to lease such vehicles because their cab fare income is too low relative to the lease they must pay each week.
That’s true too. But why the hell are the taxi brokers charging them such unserious stand rents in the first place? They can easily pay them $15 an hour or a commission of say 50% of fares earned whichever is greater after fuel is paid for and the owner pays for the carwash.
Brokers can also dispatch these cars ahead of others when vacant and allow them to park first at the airport.
It is also possible to guarantee licensed driver-owners a daily take of say $200 per 10 hour shift.
The foregoing terms would result in cab drivers seeing a move to WAV driving as a promotion with a higher income for himself and line up at the broker’s door to drive such cars.
The introduction of a centralized dispatch system would help reduce the overall capital requirements to place enough wheelchair accessible taxis on the road.
Brokers presently sublease their medallions to driver-owners at no charge. They get from them a fixed fee called “stand rent” and that is the basis of their revenue. The more cars a broker has the more income he earns.
If the brokers are unwilling to use their licenses to purchase WAVs as broker owned taxis then, to ensure that justice is done, The City of Calgary will have to force the issue through legislation to wit: prohibit the practice of “FREE SUBLEASING OF TRANSFERABLE PLATES” to driver owners unless the driver-owner already holds a transferable taxi license.
If taxi companies are unwilling to restructure their business model to better accommodate wheelchair bound customers and improve the incomes of cab drivers in general and WAV operators in particular, then governments must do it for them.