Cease and desist letters have been issued to two drivers for two different vehicles in Trail, requesting they stop picking up passengers for cash without the proper licencing.
The names of the two drivers haven’t been released to the public, but one of the partners that operate Creston Cabs, is happy to see there is action being taken against unlicensed drivers.
“If we have to play by the rules, then we think (the unlicensed drivers) should have to play by the rules, too,” said Kevin Foley, adding that Creston Cabs, with one taxi running in Trail, has drivers with proper Class 4 licenses, inspected vehicles and more.
“I think it is important that the community know that this is killing the cab business. Like the last guy (who ran Champion Cabs), it could go belly up.”
The letters were issued by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and is just the first step in stopping drivers without the right licensing from taking passengers to their destination for payment.
If caught a second time, the unlicensed drivers could be facing fines of up to $1,500.
“Cease and desist letters are a tool used to gain compliance,” wrote the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in response to email questions. “Failure to comply with directions of a Peace Officer may result in an administrative fine of up to $1,500 for a passenger transportation licensee and violation tickets of $288 to licensees and non-licensees.”
Although Foley is pleased to know the issue is recognized by enforcement agencies, he says he isn’t sure how effective a letter can be in dissuading unlicensed drivers to stop transporting passengers for profit.
“I think that the letters need to be taken with a grain of salt,” he said.
“The cease and desist letters are very difficult to enforce. If one of these guys picks someone up, especially in a small town, then gets pulled over by the RCMP, it is difficult to catch unless they see the actual transaction.
“It is not against the law to drive friends around. It is against the law to drive people around for money. In the instances that we know about, there are repeat offenders.”
To catch the unlicensed operators, the ministry can only enforce laws if caught by officers looking for offenders, or if they are reported.
“Unlicensed operators may be identified through targeted enforcement activities by police, by-law, Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement (CVSE) or passenger transportation officers,” wrote the ministry. “Unlicensed operators can also be reported. All complaints reported to the Passenger Transportation Branch are investigated. As part of an investigation, complainants and alleged illegal operators are given the opportunity to provide additional information to substantiate or refute the allegation.”
Foley proposed an alternate solution to writing letters and targeting individuals as a means of enforcement.
“I understand (the unlicensed drivers) are doing it for a means to make a living,” he said, adding that there could be a win-win answer to the problem. “I would prefer if we worked in unison. Use our vehicles. If you need a job driving, we can give you a job. As long as the driver has a clean abstract and the proper license, we are not opposed to having people drive for us. The potential is there.”