A black van taxi on a dark and wet day.
A van taxi pulls away from the curb in downtown Halifax in January 2020. — Photo: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

Taxi fares are up after a vote by Halifax regional council on Tuesday.

For the first time in 10 years, council has adjusted the fares taxi drivers are permitted to charge for transporting passengers in the municipality. On average, the fare will rise 16.1%, but shorter trips will see a higher increase than longer trips. Much of the increase lies in the initial charge, or the “drop rate,” which is moving from $3.20 to $4.70.

The cost of a 3-kilometre trip is rising $1.56, or 19.16%, to $9.70. A 25-km ride is increasing $2.90, or 6.4%, to $48.22.

As the Halifax Examiner reported on Friday, the municipality landed on that disproportionate method of raising fares, rather than a so-called blended increase, after consultation with the taxi industry.

In the staff report to council on Tuesday, Andrea MacDonald, HRM’s acting director of buildings and compliance, wrote that the preferred option “front loads the adjustment on a percentage basis to the initial starting charge (drop rate), while applying a lower percentage increase to the distance charge.”

“This will allow longer run trips to remain somewhat competitive, while ensuring the unpaid work that is a component of every fare is recouped to the extent possible.”

Dave Buffett, president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Association, said it’s important to drivers that fares stay reasonable.

“We wanted to still be affordable,” Buffett said. “And some of the longer runs, we’ve got to keep it manageable. The majority of what we do is under $10. But, you know, every night or every day, we get a few runs that are in the $20 range and we don’t want to price ourselves out of business.”

Coun. Waye Mason said the industry is under “incredible strain” with the price of gas and the pandemic’s effect on their business, but these increases also typically lead to a reduction in passengers in the short term.

“It’s a double-edged sword for them,” Mason said.

“Right now they’re simply not making enough money as independent drivers … The fares don’t justify the cost of the drive. At the same time, they know that this could impact their industry in a different way, and also temporarily drive down usage.”

Mason also said vulnerable people are potentially effected by the increase, though he noted some people get chits to cover their fares.

Coun. David Hendsbee asked when the new fares would come into effect, and MacDonald said the change would be immediate after council’s vote.

That means a passenger can expect the meter to start at $4.70 on Wednesday morning.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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