The meter is still running on the city’s only cab company but it might not be for long.
Nearly one year after Champion Cabs had requested an increase to their rates, the company has had to make further changes to deal with the bleeding.
Company owner John Foglia said, although the rates for his fares have risen, the economy has “slid backwards” and the company has had to cut its hours of services.
Since the rate increase in February, the service has gone from operating 24 hours per day, seven days per week to 16 hours per day to now to putting cabs on the road for eight hours per day only on certain days.
There is no taxi service available at all after 7 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday in Trail,
With longer service available later in the week and on weekends.
“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said about the business situation. “It’s not that it’s not enough (the rate increase), but there’s not enough volume to make it worthwhile.”
He said the company has had to keep cutting back and did not know how the situation could be improved. Although his company is up for sale, he said there was no danger of it closing right now, as long as it continued to break even.
However, he said the re-institution of the provincial sales tax could erode the bottom line this year and put the service in jeopardy once again.
Without demand, Champion Cabs went from having six operational vehicles in Trail and Castlegar to three but only had one on the road between the two communities for this past month.
In February Foglia threatened to close his company after requesting a 35 per cent rate increase from the Passenger Transportation Board because rising minimum wage, high gas prices and growing insurance costs was driving him into debt to the tune of $22,000.
He was granted an accumulative hike to his service rates and decided to keep his business in motion.
Customers paid 10 per cent more ($3.45 instead of $3.15) for a start-up fee; 22 per cent more on travel time—$2.51 per kilometre rather than $2.06—and three per cent more for wait time.
Trail Taxi began in the mid-1960s but when Foglia took over the company in 2000, he changed the name to Champion Cabs and later combined the service with Castlegar Taxi, which he bought six years ago.
He felt the two companies—and an answering service he established in conjunction with the taxi services—would support each other enough to survive as the lone cab company.