CTA conference sets proactive course for future of the industry
by Rita Smith
Taxi companies who have their heads in the sand waiting for the “old days” to come back just won’t make it in today’s marketplace, says Marc André Way, president of the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA).
“Companies which are working to re-educate drivers, to communicate with them regularly through video and social media, raising their standards and insisting on higher service levels are the ones that are going to make it,” says Way, COO of Coventry Connections in Ottawa.
“The industry was complacent for a very long period of time. Now we see some companies stepping up to improve things; others are complaining and looking for help. They will not survive.”
Way was speaking after the second CTA annual conference, held on August 22nd at the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. The conference room was full and attendance was up slightly from last year.
Way and his team in Ottawa achieved a major success earlier in 2017 when they lobbied the federal government to classify Uber as a taxi company under the Excise Act and require Uber drivers to register to collect the Harmonized Sales Tax. The new law became effective on July 1st and creates the first true “level playing field” taxi companies have yet seen as far as Uber is concerned.
“We realize that in the past, the CTA was too focused on certain areas of the country. Now our efforts are more evenly spread out and this is working well,” Way says. Representatives of Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver attended the conference. Montreal representative Jeff Desruisseaux of Taxelco planned to attend but had to bow out at the last moment. Montreal CTA board member Dominique Roy is retiring this year.
The 2017 conference had a very different tone and tenor from the 2016 event: presenters were much more focused on improving the taxi industry than complaining about ride sharing companies.
“This year was a great success,” Way says. “Taxi companies are sharing information on the educational process for drivers, making them the best they can be. We are working together to create a ‘playbook’ not just on a company-by-company basis, but on an industry-wide basis. The feeling was very optimistic and forward-looking. It felt very different from last year. We are moving on.”
Way says the CTA is already committed to the 2018 conference and that vendors and sponsors have already signed up to return. Driver education is expected to be a major component of the third CTA conference.