Hans Markus arrived at Ferraro Foods in downtown Trail Tuesday morning and within minutes had an unbooked fare requesting a ride home. Markus has been driving taxis for Champion Cabs for over a decade and said his most frequent passengers are senior women who need rides to doctor appointments or the grocery store.

Trail’s taxi service set to close if no buyer

Cab company to cease operations in Trail and Castlegar if no sale by Oct. 12

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 Oct. 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 cut backs.

“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 out 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. But I think the taxis going down is another nail in the coffin for the area.”

Just Posted

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Storm the Stairs and Trail Kidney Walk this weekend

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 26

Kootenay Robusters end 18th paddling season

Women of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together in 2001

Military exercises may be audible in Trail

The exercises will be conducted in the Trail area from Thursday to Sunday

Council rollover inspires crop of hopeful politicians

Fourteen people vying for six council seats

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

Penticton’s Wills Hodgkinson helping raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

Most Read