Hamilton Taxi Industry Running Out of Gas
Last night I was having a bad day because of a persistent mechanical problem with the cab that, despite several diagnoses and repairs continues to persist.
Then I started a conversation with a fellow driver who drives a Ford Taurus. I asked him how his car was running and he responded with a litany of complaints and tales of woe.
A couple of weeks ago, while running a fare in Hamilton's industrial sector, his vehicle was damaged by falling debris. At least one window was broken, and some body damage occurred.
While in the taxi repair shop, rats got into the trunk and began chewing on the wires. As a result, the instrument panel went haywire and the fuel gauge stopped working. To date, the mechanics have been unable to diagnose the problem.
As a result, he's been driving the cab without a fuel gauge for a while.
Given the difficulties Hamilton's politicians have imposed on rank and file drivers, especially with respect to it's granting Uber and other foreign corporations exemptions from the local bylaws, at the same allowing them to strip away the earnings of non-exempt cab drivers, this driver was pleased to get a passenger who was going to make a series of stops. He would get a break from the $6.50 fares after waiting an hour and enjoy this estimated $35 run.
The passenger was a senior citizen with a walker who probably didn't have a smartphone. The last stop he wanted to make was at the Tim Horton drive-thru on Kennilworth Ave. N. After they retrieved the order, the cab ran out of gas in the queue, blocking the vehicles that were behind them.
This describes a very stressful situation, as you can imagine. The driver then told me he called the dispatch office to request help. Apparently, the dispatch staff ignored him, so, in desperation, he got out and tried to push the cab on his own. In so doing, he lost control of the cab and it rolled into the street.
Talk about driverless taxis! You couldn't ask for a better scene for a sitcom. I could see Kramer as the driver.
Someone finally arrived with a can of gas and managed to spill half of it into the roadway.
At this point in the conversation, I was almost pissing myself laughing and my own complaint melted away.
Oh, and speaking of pissing myself. The passenger ended up doing exactly that in the back seat of the cab.
That's what you call a bad day.
Seriously though, this is the type of thing you ought to expect to happen when politicians make critical decisions that will have a severe negative impact on those affected. In the case of Uber, the city council voted "unanimously" in favour of blanket exemptions for so-called "ride-sharing" taxi companies, while simultaneously partnering up with them for a share of the loot.
The financial squeeze guarantees that important and critical repairs will be increasingly difficult to accomplish in an industry that has been stripped bare of its income.
It sickens me to hear these politicians piously state that their main priority in taxicab regulation is public safety when even the most cursory analysis exposes them as blatant liars.