Taxi drivers to consider fare hikes after fuel prices rise

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: NP gas station at the corner of Boys Lane and the Eastern Main Road, D’abadie. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Newsday visited two taxi stands in Port of Spain on Tuesday, when many drivers voiced their opinions on the increase in fuel prices.

Vishal Roopchand of the Port of Spain to San Fernando taxi stand said, “I don’t see why the price hike is necessary at this time,” and said he knows it will affect them. Roopchand said his members will meet with the St James taxi drivers before they announce whether fares will be increased.

As announced on April 9, super and premium gasoline now cost a dollar more per litre, while diesel saw a 50 cent increase. The price hike on Tuesday resulted in protests throughout the country and a strike among taxi drivers.

A taxi driver at the Port of Spain to Chaguanas taxi stand, Jason St John, said compressed natural gas (CNG) should be the way to go moving forward. He said he pays over $8,000 for fuel monthly, which could now go up to $10,000 or more with the new fuel prices.

St John said CNG would cost significantly less than super or premium gasoline as he pointed out drivers can pay $25 to fill their tanks.

But Miguel Dolabaille, president of the Chaguanas to Port of Spain Taxi Drivers Association, said the fees for installing CNG kits will depend on the car, but can be between $9,000 and $15,000. Dolabaille said this could put a strain on their income.

One commuter shared a day in his life as someone who relies on taxi services. Kurt Henry said his journey begins with a Port of Spain to Chaguanas taxi, then another taxi in the Chaguanas area to get home, which adds up to almost $500 every fortnight.

He said this is not the only thing he has to worry about: “Seeing that fuel prices gone up, food will too.”

Henry said he also has his three children to care for, but said the salary he earns is not enough, and would like to see an increase in pay.