RMWB Council has approved a new Vehicle for Hire Bylaw.
On March 8, Mayor and councillors directed Administration to review taxi rates and consider any changes to the cost of operating taxi services in Fort McMurray and across Wood Buffalo.
City staff stressed safety and protections for passengers and drivers, competitive and negotiable rates, and allows for ridesharing.
“We’ve heard from community members that options in addition to taxis are important.” Said Chief Taxi Inspector Sabrina Caterini.
Council approved the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw No. 22/006 and its amendments connected to the Fees Rates and Charges Bylaw No. 21/019 on June 14, 2022.
The changes take effect immediately.
In a statement, the Municipality said the new bylaw reinforces mutual respect between drivers and passengers to ensure a safe ride.
The RMWB listed key changes in the Vehicle for Hire bylaw.
- A more rigorous criminal record check for drivers. Anyone with a serious criminal conviction in the past 10 years is not allowed to operate a vehicle for hire.
- Taxis and ridesharing services are required to have cameras in all vehicles.
- Designated Driver Services are permitted, allowing someone to drive a passenger and their vehicle home.
- A $500 fine for passengers who do not pay their fare, reducing the likelihood of non-payment and altercations between drivers and passengers.
- A $250 surcharge for cleaning up vomit, blood and other biohazardous material.
- The waiving of the $500 Vehicle for Hire License fee for accessible taxis, encouraging more inclusive transportation options.
Also included in the bylaw are mandatory vehicle inspections every six months.
Inspections for vehicles registered in Fort Chipewyan will occur every 12 months.
Research and findings for the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw stem from extensive public engagement sessions in 2019 with community members, taxi, shuttle, and limo companies, and drivers.
The RMWB released a final report, known as the Vehicle For Hire What We Heard Report, and then conducted a subsequent survey in 2022.
The maximum metered rate is $5.00 for the first 52 meters, and 15 cents for every additional 52 meters.
Taxi companies wishing to set particular metered rates must notify Bylaw Services, which will perform meter accuracy checks and lock meters to prevent higher rates.
Instead of a metered rate, drivers and passengers may agree on negotiable flat fares before a trip.
According to the Municipality, the previous Vehicle for Hire Bylaw didn’t allow for negotiated flat fares, and all taxi companies charged the same rates.
Prices remained unchanged in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo since 2014.
As for ridesharing, privately owned vehicles may operate as rideshares provided they sign with a Transportation Network Company (TNC) that’s licensed the Municipality.
Regulated by the Alberta government and the Municipality, TNC services must obtain a brokerage license to operate in Wood Buffalo.