The city’s priorities and finance committee was asked Tuesday to approve a modest, one-time cost for software programming and hardware.
But while the vast majority of the city’s cabs already have GPS systems, Associated Cab president Roger Richard says council’s bylaw requiring them to record their whereabouts is too expensive.
“This is only one side of the story. It’s going to be millions of dollars. There are elements in there that are not even possible. I’d hate to see the public having to pay for what’s not needed,” said Richard.
However, administration and even taxi industry insiders say the investment needed is small.
“I’ve never seen any backup to that. In fact, we got letters from the industry suggesting quite modest investments were needed,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
“It sounded like today there was a miscommunication on what does real-time mean. I remain committed to moving to a data-based monitoring system so we know how many cabs are out at any given time, who’s driving, what the fare revenue is like. I stand by the bylaw council passed.”
The committee recommended the costs be re-examined by the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee.
The city wants cabs to report their whereabouts through GPS, so it can better monitor where taxis are and at what hours.
It approved a bylaw when it released 55 new, non-transferable accessible taxi plate licences that went to drivers, not brokers. They come with conditions, including that cabs must be accessible and available to the public Friday and Saturday nights until 4 a.m.
It was the first change to the city’s 1,411-cab fleet in about five years, when independent drivers were given the city’s first 100 accessible taxi plates.
Council earlier agreed to require taxi companies to install security cameras.
Council heard that 75 per cent of the 1,300-vehicle taxi fleet has cameras installed.
That cost the industry more than $500,000, Len Bellingham said in a letter.
Taxi owners have a deadline of July 2013 to install cameras.