Anyone hoping to catch a cab home from the bar or out to pick up groceries will be out of luck soon in Castlegar and Trail. Owner John Foglia says both Castlegar Taxi and Champion Cab in Trail will be shutting down on Jan. 31 leaving both cities with no taxi services.
“I’ve been trying to sell them for the last five years,” he said. “I want to retire – I’ve had enough. I had some people complain and I gave people a chance to buy it and no one has so I’m shutting it down.”
With rising fuel prices and other expenses, Foglia has had a tough go of it with the cab companies.
“I did my best to service the area,” he said. “But I’ve had nothing but hurdles to jump over. It’s time for me to stop doing it.”
Foglia has owned Castlegar Taxi for six years and Champion Cab in Trail for 12 years. He says he has contacted both cities as well as the RCMP and had little response.
“I feel sorry for the people, especially the elderly, who need this service,” he said.
Foglia said his cab rates are set by the provincial government and he has no say in the matter.
“It’s beyond my control,” he said. “The transportation board tells you how much you can charge for your service and, as you know, I couldn’t afford to pay more than minimum wage to the people driving the cabs and answering the phones.
“How can you compare what a Vancouver cab is making to a cab in Castlegar or Trail? We might get ten calls in a hour and then the next three hours you are doing nothing. You can’t make money that way. You can’t afford to be in business.”
Foglia said the money put into the bus service would be better spent on taxis.
“The most important people that need a taxi are the elderly,” he said. “How many of them, when it’s snowing, can walk from their house (to the bus stop) when it’s icy, when they’re 80 years-old and have a cane? Whereas a taxi can go right up to their driveway and you only pay when you use them. Not like these buses that run up and down the streets with nobody in them. As bad as I feel for these people, there’s nothing more I can do. I’ve tried my best.”
Foglia says the only way he would consider staying open is if the government allowed him to raise the fares.
“You’d have a better chance of winning the lottery,” he said.