Friday, July 3, 2009

my speech

As Someone who drives a vehicle for hire I rely on the Vehicle for Hire Commission to make well educated and informed decisions. I rely on a line of communication that adds an air of transparency to the system that is Vehicles for hire. That allows me, the driver and you the counsel to understand each other so we can work in unison. A line of communication that helps the counsel define problems in the system and allows drivers to present their issues. A line of communication that, exposes bad drivers and flaws with the laws. A good line of communication helps bring not only drivers and the Government together but also the everyday Edmontonian. I love driving a taxi in Edmonton.

On the morning of April 11th I witnessed a Gypsy taxi steal my fare. I was in shock. I radioed dispatch to find out what I could do. I made sure to get the guys license plate number. Dispatch had no idea what to do. Dispatchers at my company are not trained to deal with these issues because my dispatcher told me to go to the police. I called the EPS thinking they might catch the guy and give him a ticket. All they did is give me the number to Shar Wellers office. I phoned immediately only to find a recording stating that Share was on Vacation and if I wanted to speak to someone about my taxi problem I could call 311. So the next day I did and was told to phone the vehicle for hire commission. I was thrown in a loop. And a man breaking the law was allowed to continue with no repercussions. I was in shock. Nine days later I got an email from Share apologizing about the delay. She informed me about the city of Edmontons Municipal Enforcement Officers and how they conduct roaming inspections of vehicles on a 24/7 basis and also do follow ups on complaints regarding taxi violations like gypsy cabs, from their office location. I wondered how they got their information about those issues. Since yellow cab had no Idea who to get a hold of in regards to the gypsy cabbies. Based on my experience yellow cab dosen’t communicate with the vehicle for hire commission and the bylaw office does not receive an accurate amount of complaints regarding the vehicles for hire. Why can’t I get a hold of these bylaw officers 24/7. A line of communication.

The 3$ sure charge is another issues that I think is causing some of my financial stresses. Since January business has been down. Fares are almost non existent. The recession is one of the causes for the problem. People are out of work. The problem with the the extra three dollar charge is that it seems to be a deterrent. Clientele that would have hopped into a taxi on their way home often decided to walk now because their 10$ fare looks more like a 15 dollar fare. In these tight economic times 5 bucks can make or break someones decision to take a taxi or drive home drunk. I believe the Vehicle for hire commission has over priced clients for too long causing a customer back lash. Could you guys please look into finding a suitable solution to this problem. Wait times are non exsistent, there is no need to entice drivers to come out at night. Get rid of the extra 3$ and make sure to inform the public.

Quality control, there has been many issues related to poor service in the vehicle for hire world here in Edmonton. Don't get me wrong, we have excellent drivers and some incredibly good people out there. But there are complaints. Training seems to be one of the only ways to inform drivers how to behave with the clients. I believe there is more that can be done. Since organizations like yellow cab have nobody out on the roads paying attention to customer complaints and driver problems I think the vehicle for hire commission should implement rules that corporations like Yellow cab have a secret shopper programs and someone that enforces the rules. Stops illegal driving tactics and habits that have become common on the roads after midnight. Police are too busy looking after normal citizens breaking the law. Cab drivers with bad attitudes are not at the top of their agenda but they should be at the top the vehicle for hires commissions list of priorities. As a guy that works the night shift I am aware that taxi drivers have freedom. I am also aware that some of the drivers abuse that freedom. Whether we want to admit it or not, the city has some bad apples. Drivers that use the cars as a cover to sell drugs, alcohol. I’ve witnessed children driving around in their fathers car doing whatever they wanted. The city needs to step up and force the corporations to deal with these renegade drivers. Hopefully you guys can hire an organization that uses secret shoppers to evaluate drivers conduct and performance and report the findings directly to the city not the company that often protects inappropriate behavior.

Now safety, We have safety shields but is that enough. I don’t think so. To tell you the truth the people in my car are usually people who's behavior I can predict to some degree. To me the real dangers of working in the taxi business are the other dangerous drivers. EPS has a Curb the danger program. I’ve used it on many occasions.I witness many awful things driving the night shift and I often feel the need to communicate the issues to the authorities but dispatch is not in direct contact with the police. I believe that there should be a direct line of communication with the taxi service's and the police. We see more crime then most people can imagine. Most of it can be ignored, but there are times when you have to tell someone what you know. About a rape, or a very dangerous driver, or someone out to hurt another. The commission should look into creating a hot line for taxi drivers where they can leave tips through dispatch and feel safe. I’m not sure how but it could make the city much safer. The shields were not the worst choice I am safer.

As a driver behind the wheel of an Edmonton city hack I feel the need to inform the vehicle for hire commissions my problems, views and their solutions in my opinion. I believe I should have more access to bylaw officers and their services. I believe that the crisis behind the lack of drivers is over and the 3 dollar sure charge should be abolished. I believe that the citizens of Edmonton deserve taxis and drivers that have been put through a program that ensures quality control. I believe that as a driver I should have access to programs that can help me do the right thing with information that I have acquired through my job. A vehicle for hire is more then just a car that makes money, it should also be a person who wants to be a responsible and a trust worthy part of the community. Driving a taxi in Edmonton is an amazing job, let's keep it that way.

1 comment:

Tanya said...

That is an awesome speech, and your idea's are good. Hopefully you are able to make some headway.