New city cab regulations may seem like an invasion of privacy for drivers and their passengers, but they offer protection for both, the president of a local cab drivers’ union said yesterday.
Ottawa’s 1,400-plus cab drivers are required to outfit their vehicles with GPS systems and video-only cameras by early next year. And while Jacques Labaki, president of Local 6056 representing Capital Taxi drivers in Ottawa, said some drivers balked at the privacy issues, the equipment will make it safer for everyone using taxi services, Labaki said.
From a financial standpoint, GPS systems are not a problem, said Labaki. But the video camera will cost approximately up to $1,500 — an out-of-pocket expense for the driver.
To help offset the cost of video equipment, the city increased the initial meter rate by five cents last year.
Drivers waiting for fares outside the Sheraton on Albert Street yesterday voiced their displeasure with the new regulations yesterday.
“We have to pay for this,” said one driver, who asked not to be identified, for fear of reprisal from his employer. “And it will be no safer than what we have now.”
But the success of this program depends on how the city and the cab company use the equipment, Labaki said.
“If they’re going to watch them 24/7, that’s a bit problematic,” said Labaki. “But if they only used them in major complaints, it would be good to name the right person and not accuse someone who is innocent.”