There is no question members of the Airport Taxi Association (ATA) are impacted greatly by COVID-19 and expect better relief from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA). They turned down an offer to reduce permit fees and install protective barriers in vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to reports, the ATA president Rajinder Singh, pointed to vague conditions that were attached to what he described as being a “very unusual” offer.
These conditions included a new dispatch system and a change to how drivers must pay fees in the future.
Despite Singh’s advise to drivers not to accept the offer letter, there are indications that a considerable number of taxi and limousine drivers have chosen to accept the proposal and the GTAA has confirmed that it had received a positive response.
As per the relief, monthly permit fees from April to June would be waived and for the rest of 2020 they will be reduced by 50 per cent, the GTAA said. Those who have chosen not to sign onto the agreement must continue to pay their fees in full, which are more than $700 each month, according to Singh.
The deadline to accept the offer was extended to Aug. 17, and the GTAA said it will credit any fees paid toward July to August for those who sign.
According to the GTAA the new proposed fee structure is designed to cushion the impact of lower passenger traffic at the airport and that it funded the purchase and installation of barriers in more than 600 vehicles to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.
But so far only those drivers who’ve signed off on the new proposal have been served, many other drivers are installing the barrier themselves rather than taking the relief package.
Wards 9 and 10 councillor, Gurpreet Dhillon, and the rest of Brampton council has publicly issued support for the association’s rejection of the airport’s relief offer. A council motion moved by Dhillon was passed unanimously and tasked Mayor Patrick Brown with writing a letter to the GTAA explaining council’s position.
“The ATA and its drivers have suffered through 10 deaths due to COVID-19, and have been already heavily impacted with recent decisions to allow Uber to operate at Pearson,” Singh said in the release. “All we are asking for is fair treatment.”
According to the GTAA, in order for drivers to accept the new fee structure, they must agree to the following: share the benefit with authorized subcontractors under their licence or permit, continue to use to the fullest extent possible any other relief available through insurance, government programs etc. and continue to comply with the terms and conditions of their licence or permit.
Apparently these conditions are unacceptable to the ATA. In the larger picture and in the age of ride-sharing apps, it is clear that the ATA needs a lot more to survive the long haul, in particular there is the need for the stakeholders to be more flexible.