BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
A local taxi cab is pictured with installed winter tires. A city official says there’s no urge to make winter tires mandatory on Brandon taxis from city hall or the industry.
There’s no urge to make winter tires mandatory on Brandon taxi cabs from city hall or the industry.
Shelley Tataryn, the city’s accounting manager, said adding mandatory snow tires isn’t top-of-mind and said enforcement could be a barrier for the city.
"I can’t say it hasn’t been discussed, but it hasn’t been put on the bylaw," she said.
"When we do random inspections, we don’t do every cab, so enforcements of all the vehicles may be difficult."
While the city does random and regular inspections on taxis which include meter, mechanics, decaling and lights, administration is also looking to do a once-per-year inspection sweep of all taxi cabs, she said.
"We are very concerned with vehicle safety. We are looking at one complete vehicle check which includes every cab throughout the year."
Heiko Zinn, former general manager of 4-Way Taxi and former spokesperson for Brandon’s taxi industry, said the city "has no stomach" for taxi bylaw enforcement. Zinn said he would rather see the city mandate driver training programs for taxis, which would include education on winter tires and how to drive in winter conditions.
"That’s what we should be talking about in a bylaw," he said. "For the most part, the drivers like the grip on the road, they do it on their own.
"If I were a driver, it would only make sense to have a better grip on the road, if (drivers) don’t do it, it’s a lack of better judgment."
Zinn estimates about 50 per cent of the city’s taxis don’t have winter tires.
Bogale Gebrehiwot, acting general manager of ABC Taxi, said all of his company-owned vehicles are outfitted with winter tires and the majority of the driver-owned vehicles have winter tires at least on the front wheels.
He said the twice-per-year cab inspections by the city is enough to keep the cabs safe.
A full set of winter tires (complete with rims) will set a motorist back anywhere from $600 to $1,000.
"I support it for public service really, for the safety of the customers," Gebrehiwot said.
"It is expensive, but as long as it’s good customer service and it’s for the safety of the public, it’s a good thing."
According to the Ontario-based Rubber Association of Canada, last year only 20 per cent of Manitoba motorists opted for snow tires.
It’s not just taxis transporting people around without winter tires.
It was revealed last year not one of Manitoba’s 160 ambulances has winter tires. While the province’s 11 regional health authorities all use all-terrain, all-weather tires on their Crestline Coach "Fleetmax" ambulances.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 23, 2013