Cab company hails for a buyer

Taxi service is looking for a buyer or is calling it quits

  • Aug. 28, 2014 6:00 p.m.

Sheri Regnier

Rossland News

In a few months Hans Markus will be out of a job.

But more than a regular paycheque, the Trail man says he’ll miss the people he’s been driving to and fro throughout the city for the last 11 years.

Summer months are quiet, but during the rest of the year, he can pick up 20 to 25 calls during his 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. shift, with most of the requests coming from Trail’s senior citizens.

Markus is one of two Champion Cab drivers still taxiing for the Trail company that has gradually cut back hours of operation in the last few years.

The cab service along with its sister company, Castlegar Taxi, is up for sale.

If there are no takers, then October 12 marks the last day that taxis will be available in Greater Trail and Castlegar.

“I’d say 90 per cent of my fares are elderly ladies,” said the 65-year old driver. “If nobody wants a cab company in Trail, then I just won’t drive cab. But I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll really miss all the people.”

John Foglia, owner of JF Auto Centre, took over the Trail company 15 years ago, but now he wants to move on and maybe even retire.

“I’ve run it for quite awhile and it’s beyond my time,” he said. “I tried to help the area by taking the company over. I’m not looking for a whole pile of money, just for someone to make me an offer.”

There’s no doubt that losing the taxi service will impact a lot of lives in Greater Trail, because health care facilities, Teck Trail Operations and BC Transit all rely upon the company to transport patients, residents, and employees to distal destinations.

Columbia View Lodge has a person who regularly uses the cab service, says the facility’s Bridges Coordinator, Sandy Garrett.

“She has doctor appointments twice a week,” explained Garrett. “She has no family that lives in town to transport her, and doesn’t know how she’ll get to her appointments if there is no cab.”

Last year, BC Transit provided 279 taxi supplements to its passengers who couldn’t be accommodated by the company’s handyDART service.

“The taxi supplement is a cost effective way to meet demands,” said Meribeth Burton, BC Transit’s spokesperson. “Especially with your hilly terrain, sometimes a taxi is more effective in the snow than the handyDART shuttles.”

She said the operational impacts are going to be quite significant and BC Transit and its partners will look at possibly re-allocating handyDART hours, or finding another service provider.

“This is a significant development so we’re keen to talk with our partners about how to move forward.”

Over time, the taxi service has cut back its 24/7 service by 50 per cent due to a decline in ridership and a lack of sufficient rate increases, explained Foglia.

“When I bought Trail Taxi out in 2000, they were about to go down,” he recalled. “But it’s been frustrating and with no support from the government, this is a hard business to survive.”

Foglia said a complaint he quite often hears is that people can’t get a cab when they need it.

The cab company receives its highest call volume in a short span of time each day, but doesn’t have enough cars or drivers to meet the demand due to cutbacks.

“Those calls help the driver to break even with gas and so on,” he explained. “But people want the cab right away, don’t want to wait, and don’t understand why there isn’t another car available.”

On the darker side of the cab business is the problem with some of the night time fares, which is a time of day that Foglia’s drivers aren’t keen to work.

“That’s the worst time for our drivers because they have to pick up someone they don’t want to,” said Foglia.

Even with a new provincial regulation that green-lights cab companies to charge a $75 clean up fee to passengers who upchuck in the taxi, Foglia remains cynical.

“This new $75 charge is a laugh. Bars usually kick people out when they’ve spent all their money on beer. I ask, ‘Have you ever known someone who’s drunk and willing to give you $75?’”

There’s not a fixed selling price for the two taxi businesses, and Foglia said he’s willing to consider any “reasonable offer.”

 

“I tried to help the area by taking the companies over, but I need to move on. I think the taxis going down is another nail in the coffin for the area.”

 

 

Just Posted

Greens choose Rosslander to represent them in next federal election

Tara Howse is the former chair of Rossland’s Sustainability Commission

Teck will continue to fight U.S. judgement

U.S. Supreme Court denied hearing Teck’s appeal last week

Commercial truck caught dumping waste into river near Trail

Greater Trail RCMP report the company owner has been identified

Trail police looking for male suspect driving red van

RCMP report the man asked a young boy to get in his vehicle

Four fires still burning in West Kootenay

More than 25 fires were started by lightning in the last week.

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

Most Read