FARE-Y TALES: So You Wanna Be a Taxi Driver?

"It is a cash business. You are not covered for any benefit packages that other industries have. Work or don’t get paid."

There are an estimated 500-600 Taxi drivers in St. John’s, and the industry is controlled by a small group of owners.

There is no organization representing the interests of the Taxi Industry. Responsibility for administering it falls under the same City Department that inspects your building joists and plumbing. Driver pay is based on performance. No salary. No minimum wage. There is no better example of piecework that can be found. Work the hours and make the money. Got the flu or pneumonia … too bad. The industry pushes drivers to work long difficult hours for pay. It is a cash business. You are not covered for any benefit packages that other industries have. Work or don’t get paid.

A few drivers have weekly flat rates, but the majority work on a 50/50 split after gasoline costs. Drivers keep their tips. Some taxi stands may demand that the driver pay 60 or 70 cents every kilometre a driver puts on the speedometer. If you are dispatched a long distance for a fare and it is not there, you must still pay up. There is a continuous need for taxi drivers due to a high turnover; there is no written knowledge test required (the City dropped that many years ago). You do need to obtain a certificate of conduct from the RNC. The taxi owner may provide minimum training and away you go. It’s low paying, long hours, and at times dangerous. But I would go so far as to say that a majority of taxi drivers enjoy their work. I do.

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