One year after the Town of Bracebridge decided to switch from mandatory to voluntary taxi licenses, staff say the situation has improved. Nonetheless, some councillors were concerned that not a single taxi has voluntarily registered for a license.
Town Council received a one-year update on the project during their latest general committee meeting. In their report to councillors, by-baw reported more diversity with respect to taxicab operators since the licensing by-law was repealed. The report said that out-of-town taxicabs are increasingly extending their services to the Bracebridge area for pick-ups and drop-offs. That, in turn, has been a boon to the community since it has resulted in lower wait times for taxi cabs and better service.
The committee took the news with a grain of salt, as councillor Rick Maloney said it was disappointing not a single cab had chosen to participate in their voluntary registry. Maloney said the intent of the registry was to provide users with some degree of safety, knowing that the company was registered with the Town.
“That hasn’t happened,” he said.
He asked staff if they could go back to the taxi companies in an effort to convince some of them to join the registry, and staff agreed they would pursue the matter.
Mayor Graydon Smith said he would like to see the municipalities in Muskoka all taking some type of unified approach when it comes to bringing ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft into the region.
“It’s all about choice and the ability of people to get a ride if they need it,” said Smith. “I hope there are more steps we can take.”
The move to deregulate taxi cabs in Bracebridge came after staff reported they were dedicating considerable resources towards the regulation and enforcement of the taxi-cab industry to investigate and respond to complaints from taxi-cab operators or drivers towards other operators or drivers. Few complaints were received by the public, staff reported, however those received focused around customer service-related matters.
In the year since the deregulation of the vehicle for hire industry in Bracebridge there has been one logged complaint about a vehicle for hire business. The complainant was encouraged to contact the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services who is responsible for Consumer Protection regulations in Ontario.
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