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Deregulation not what cab companies envisioned when asking for maximum fare increase, says owner

Some regulations need to stay in place for the taxi industry in Lethbridge, according to one taxi manager. Michael Arend is co-owner and operations manager of both 94 Cabs and Fifth Avenue Cabs and says it is important the city continues to regulate at least the requirement for taxis to have metering devices.

The city’s safety standing policy committee carried a motion at its March March to recommend city council get rid of regulations on the taxi industry.

“I think it is important to remember that whatever direction we go, we need consistency,” Arend said. “Despite deregulation, I think metering is key and crucial and it should still be a requirement. What the companies set those metres at, that should be left up to them and the market I guess.”

The conversation started in February when representatives from the industry asked the committee to consider an increase to maximum allowable fares. The discussion was pushed to the March meeting, where councillor Ryan Parker brought forward the motion to get rid of regulations on the industry.

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“This isn’t what I envisioned, this isn’t what any of the other taxi companies envisioned but we will roll with it and we will do our best to service our community,” Arend said. “They certainly listened to what I said; they asked a lot of questions; they looked at a bunch of different options, including things like the creation of a taxi commission to take over regulating the industry. Lethbridge isn’t big enough for that and running a commission costs a fair bit of money.”

The ask for increased maximum fares stemmed from increased cost of fuel and insurance, Arend said. “This isn’t a move to gouge the community, but it is a move to protect the services that exist within Lethbridge,” he said, adding one company that was part of the request has since gone out of business.

The recommendation to deregulate will go to city council for consideration and potential approval.

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