Driver happily gives up TTL just to keep his head above water
by Mike Beggs
Although he has dedicated almost two decades of his life to driving taxi in Toronto, Iraj Izaddoust says he thinks about quitting “every day”.
This in light of the hell on earth created by the City’s accommodation of Uber and other Private Transportation Companies (PTCs) under the 2016 Vehicle-For-Hire bylaw.
“It’s about 65 to 70 percent down,” says the gracious Iranian native of his earnings. “At least every 15 minutes, they (the PTCs) pick somebody up. And I wait 1.5 to 2 hours.”
Believe it or not, matters were even worse before he recently gave his Toronto Taxi License (TTL) plate back when his vehicle came due for replacement, and opted to lease out a plate instead.
“When I had a TTL there was no chance of (making a living)” says Izaddoust, a director of the iTaxiworkers Association.
“I was close to bankruptcy with the other vehicle. I couldn’t pay my bills. Honestly, if my wife wasn’t working, I’m homeless.”
And beyond that came the physical toll, from sitting and riding around in an uncomfortable, noisy van for 12 hours a day, and pushing people in wheelchairs up and down the ramp, since 2014. And he says that also, “brings a mental issue on you.”
“He’s not an isolated case,” relates IW president Sajid Mughal. “I’ve been hearing from a lot of TTL drivers, they’re not going to replace their vehicle when it expires. They’re going to give their plate back.”
“The City is supposed to service the people with disabilities (it’s not the taxi industry’s responsibility). They should take immediate action on this.”
Two months back, Izaddoust replaced his high-maintenance, $60,000-plus van with a 2018 hybrid Camry, and he finds life is better – if only relatively so.
“I got this one to keep my expenses down,” he explains. “Right now, it’s a little bit more normal. I can pay my bills.”
While his previous car installment was $1,200 a month, he’s now paying around $500 a month for his lease, plus his monthly payment on the Camry. And while he was previously shelling out $1,200 to $1,400 per month for gas, that’s now down to about $400 a month.
And, he can pick up flags again.
That said, he still finds himself working a grueling 12 hours a day from Monday to Friday, and five to six hours on Saturday, just to get by.
“I have a gym in my building, but I can’t use it. No time,” he says.
“I used to be a very active person. Now, I’ve given up everything. I get up (in the morning), I’m a bit tired.”
The 60-year-old father of one stands behind the plate owners’ proposed $1.7-billion class action suit against the City of Toronto. He says the Mayor’s so-called level playing field promised under the VFH bylaw is non-existent – between the flood of competition under the open entry granted PTC’s, and the host of other concessions they were granted.
“Of course (not),” he adds. “There’s 10 times more Ubers than taxis. There’s too many cars driving around – especially for safety on the road, and for everybody. Every day, you have accidents happening.”
“(These PTC drivers), they come in from other cities. They don’t know the streets.”