Record Gas Prices: Tough Times for the Taxi Industry

The record price of gasoline is hurting the taxi industry very badly. At $1.92 per liter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, companies are having a hard time keeping their heads above water and are seeing some of their vehicles run at a loss.

“Our main expense in the taxi is really gasoline. We took a leap and we are discouraged. Since the new law 17, it seems that everything always falls on us: there was the pandemic, the loss of employees. There, we are no longer able to put an employee on a taxi, it is not profitable in my opinion. If we drive our taxi ourselves, we may be able to get a salary, but right now, I think we are running taxis at a loss,” said Roger Bérubé, president of Taxi Diamond in the borough of Jonquière, in Saguenay.

“I would say that we walk for almost nothing. There’s no money to be made this time around. It’s losses, losses. We find that very unfortunate. And that does not help us to hire people,” added the president of Taxis Unis de Chicoutimi, Hugo Lapointe.

Despite soaring fuel prices, companies are not allowed to raise their prices. The Commission des transports du Québec decides on prices.

“If I were a grocery store, I could say: I increase the price of my food. But there, since it’s managed by the government, I have to wait for him to decide to raise me. And it has not been increased for several years, ”explained Roger Bérubé.

The owner of Taxi 2151 in the borough of La Baie, Carole Dallaire, believes that the method used to establish taxi fares is “outdated”.

“It is inconceivable in our head. Our rates have not changed since 2018… There has been too much setback over the years. In 10 years, we had 7.61%. Two increases: once 5% and once 2.5%. It is well below the cost of living,” denounced Carole Dallaire.

What gives taxi owners and drivers some hope is that hearings on this are scheduled for the end of March. Companies estimate that a delay of at least 20% is to be made up.

Despite everything, the industry is calling for changes and help from the government, especially with the price of gasoline still in danger of rising.

“We are talking about $2.50 per litre. Will it stop? […] At 2.50 per litre, some will fall. They won’t be able to continue, that’s for sure. The government will have to remedy this by removing taxes, by giving exemptions on fuel, ”said Ms. Dallaire.

“What is the future of the taxi now? Does he still have a future in the taxi industry? wondered Roger Bérubé.

The owners are looking for solutions to survive. The electric shift has already started for some. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.

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