Thunder Bay Move toward New Taxi Bylaw

Thunder Bay City Hall
Thunder Bay City Hall

Thunder Bay City Hall - Council starting budget deliberations.
Thunder Bay City Hall
Context: At City Council on Monday Night Deputations from Industry Partners addressed Councillors on the Proposed Bylaw on Taxi Service. Here is the presentation delivered by Kasper Wabinski of Kasper Transportation.

THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – Good evening, my name is Kasper Wabinski, the founder of Kasper Transportation. My team and I provide bus transportation services, limo bus services, and same day cargo deliveries. We have been in business since 2015; with many ups and downs in business, we’ve to managed to grow a large business with 35 employees and scheduled routes across the province of Ontario. In addition, we also provide wedding charters, special event charters, school trips, sport team charters and out of town charters for corporate customers.

I come here before you to voice my concerns over events taking place in our community regarding the City Taxi by Law and rideshare services. At first when ridesharing came to town I wanted to learn more about It before I made my decision on whether I would support it or not. I at first agreed to help and Cody Ruberto (Uride Owner) build his business by providing vehicles and drivers. I quickly learned that none of my drivers wanted to drive for Uride because they couldn’t earn enough money to cover minimum wage and vehicle expenses. We once again tried to work together, under the terms of renting our vehicles to Uride for a per kilometre price. My business was quick to realize that weren’t profitable at $1.6 a km. I graciously decided to help Cody to solve his insurance problems by helping him access our commercial insurance policy.

In the process of providing insurance services, we have realized that there are too many issues not being addressed that can only be fixed by city council. We did try to resolve as many of them with the owners of rideshares, but we couldn’t achieve satisfactory results.  I have communicated with all stakeholders in the Taxi business in Thunder Bay about my concerns and I have informed them that I would come here and share them with council:

Our first concern is Safety:

  • Safety of the customers and drivers,
  • I’ve been informed personally by customers that not all drivers in the rideshare network are properly trained to provide transportation services and driving experiences.
  • I’ve been informed by drivers, that other drivers have been robbed at knifepoint and sexually assaulted by intoxicated customers.
  • I’ve been witness to drivers failing to prevent consumption of alcohol and drugs during transportation.
  • I’ve been witness to drivers not knowing how to do proper walkarounds, vehicle inspections.
  • Drivers drove vehicles with flat tires instead of calling roadside assistance.
  • There are clear guidelines differentiating city regulated transportation services and transportation services provided under the public vehicle act.

Regulations are to ensure that companies operate and conduct themselves at a high standard and to ensure the public receives a quality, safe service we must accept the costs associated with doing so. Based on prior deregulation history in aviation, we can clearly learn and conclude that this was not the best possible outcome in the industry.

Also with our aging population, it is our social responsibility to ensure accessible transportation. The new by-law does not protect and ensure and incentivize operators to keep operating accessible vehicles. It would be a shame if we failed our fellow citizens in this city by failing to design the by-law to protect their needs. All bus companies must and do provide at least 1 accessible vehicle as per the accessibility act.

The Current by-law does not ensure that any of the taxi companies won’t just switch to auxiliary taxi category and avoid all the expenses that come with running a traditional cab company. It opens for a cut-throat market for anyone with a van, meeting minimum standards, to operate in our community.

We must ensure driver safety, and all companies must follow the provincial and federal labour laws. Currently, we are not even sure if ride-sharing companies in town are operating legally for the past 10 months.

All drivers should be making minimum wage, and it is the responsibility of the company to ensure they do.

The main message I bring forward is that the by-law isn’t ready in my opinion and must be fine-tuned to meet the unique needs of our community. I was brought up in a strict family and I was always taught to do my job 100%. We must take pride in being the best, our community, slogan, is superior by nature, and our by-law also should be superior by nature. I am here as a concerned citizen, a concerned business owner and I’m willing to work with the city on sharing my opinion and advice for the by-law, I am willing to educate anyone here who wishes to learn how to do a pre-trip vehicle inspection and show some of our internal quality control procedures.

Thank you.

Kasper Wabinski