Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 16, 2024
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News
December 10, 2023
Volume 193 No. 50

U-turn for Uride

Council will reconsider its surprise decision to deny continued funding to Uride at its last meeting of the year, Dec. 19.

Council will reconsider its surprise decision to deny continued funding to Uride at its last meeting of the year, Dec. 19.

Councillor John Hirsch announced last week he intended to revive the motion, which proposed a $30,000 living wage subsidy to Uride, and to modernize the taxi bylaw to even the ground between traditional taxi companies and the ride-hailing service, and create a $30,000 minor grant fund for local private transportation companies.

The Municipal Accommodation Tax, which is collected from Short Term Accommodations, would fund both the subsidy and related micro grants. By law, half of the funds generated by the MAT remain with the municipality to support tourism infrastructure development while the other portion is funnelled to tourism marketing by way of the DMMO, the County’s Destination Marketing and Management Organization.

While Councillor Hirsch’s motion to reconsider may revive Uride’s funding and help the traditional cab companies, reaction to the motion’s failure to pass last week is revealing. Both Uride and local taxi companies are struggling.

Uride CEO and Founder Cody Ruberto said municipal funding was crucial “to maintain affordable and reliable transportation for the County’s residents and visitors, especially during evening hours.”

Developing a sustainable business model has been part of Uride’s goal since it started operations here in July 2022. The CEO said that without the living wage subsidy, the challenging geography of the County makes providing fair earnings to its drivers difficult.

“Despite this setback, Uride is actively exploring alternative solutions to continue offering its services,” Mr. Ruberto said.

Rick Marshall owns The Taxi Guy, one of two cab companies serving the County. He said he was completely unaware of any pending modifications to the County’s taxi bylaw or micro grant programs.

Mr. Marshall said he appreciated any effort to level the playing field between Uride and the taxi services. He added he would welcome an opportunity to provide input to municipal staff.

It can be feast or famine in the local taxi game, he said, and even the highs of the summer season are not enough during the lulls in winter.

“We turn away as many fares as we take. We take about 50 per cent of the calls we get.”

Along with escalating fuel costs, skyrocketing insurance premiums do not help. Mr. Marshall said a new driver with a clean record still adds $1,000 a month to his insurance costs.

“It’s a losing proposition,” he said. “The cost of adding a driver is astronomical. The way it’s going right now, it could just be me driving one vehicle in a year’s time. I said I wasn’t against Uride when they came because there’s more business than we can handle in the summer time — but it has to be fair. We need help too.”

This text is from the Volume 193 No. 50 edition of The Picton Gazette
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