VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – They’re exhausted, overworked and underpaid, but dozens of taxi drivers at one North Vancouver company are on the road more than the legal limit, according to an internal communication.
A bulletin sent out to drivers at North Shore Taxi says at least 30, around a quarter of them, are out of compliance with the law, driving more than the legislated 70-hours per week, and potentially putting themselves and others at risk on the road. The rules say a driver needs a 24 hour break somewhere in a 7 day stretch if they are going to log more than 70 hours that week.
The memo also warns the Passenger Transportation Board may be levying fines on those drivers in the coming days. Drivers and their companies can be fined between $311 and $598 for violating the rules.
Low wages and a hyper-competitive licencing system are pushing drivers across the region to work while exhausted, according to Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart.
“We do it by limiting the supply of rides home. We’re going to put pressure on those drivers to do more output,” he said, adding drivers may feel pressured to work more if they have a low-income night. “We end up potentially running the risk that we have drivers that are willing to bend or break some rules at a time when they’re not exactly thinking straight.”
He says the NDP should remove caps on taxis licenses and ride-hailing fleet sizes so more people can get home safely, especially during peak holiday hours. He would also like changes to include scrapping the requirement for drivers to hold class 4 licences.
“(Drivers are) trying to rent the cab for the night so that they can make a living, and if they don’t do well one night, then yes, they’re pressured into doing more and more in order to make a living wage.”
BC Taxi Association says computer monitoring prevents over working
Mohan Kang with the BC Taxi Association says while North Shore Taxi is not one of his members companies, he would be surprised if drivers were working longer-than-allowed hours.
“I would be really surprised that the company allowed them because, due to the computerized system, they are well aware and they have positive control to see who is driving how many hours they should be,” Kang said. “To my mind, the companies really take care of this issue because they’re concerned to make sure the drivers are there to provide a safe and professional service.”
Kang says he does not think the issue of overworked drivers is widespread and challenges Stewart’s idea that drivers try to make up for slow nights.
“If you had a bad day, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow you’re not going to have a better day,” he said.
In an e-mail statement, the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure says it “has established a progressive intervention processes that aims to gain compliance.”
Kang says his association supports the province’s regulations.
“The association has preached it, advocated it and supported fully any and every safety issue concerned with the taxis,” he said.
North Shore Taxi could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.