A new Yellowknife cab company set to open April 1st is hoping the city can move fast in allowing them to use a wireless meter system.

Meda Shannahan of Yellowknife Taxi Ltd. asked council Monday night for permission or a special provision to be able to install wireless taxi meters in their 35 cabs. Shannahan says approval of the meters is one of the last requirements before the company can get their cabs inspected and on the road.

“Currently taxi companies are required to use a mechanical meter – that is a bulky item, that has to be mounted onto the dashboard of a car, which obscures the driver’s visibility, it has wires running across the dash which looks unprofessional and can be considered an electrical fire hazard,” says Shannahan.

The system Yellowknife Taxi plans to use is the DDS Wireless TaxiBook System, a ‘soft meter’, defined by the Passenger Transportation Board as devices which calculate distances based on GPS or smartphones and tablets loaded with taxi meter software. Shannahan says the system is encrypted, meaning only the creator DDS can access it.

An example of how the DDS wireless taxi book system, a so-called ‘soft metre’, will look in a cab. Emelie Peacock photo

The meter has added benefits, Shannahan says, including being able to call passengers before arrival and fleet tracking – knowing where all drivers are at all times.

“This is high priority for our company as we need to ensure our drivers safety. And if there is an emergency, we know exactly where that car is,” she says.

Director of policy, communications and economic development Kerry Penney says the soft meter doesn’t fit within the definition of a taxi meter within the city’s bylaw 4526. Director of public safety Eric Bussey added the city has been researching these devices and looking at potential amendments to the bylaw.

“It’s exciting, a new cab company, but my number one question is how come you weren’t here like eight weeks ago?,” Councillor Niels Konge asked. He says less than a month to get the approval is far too short for the city.

President of Yellowknife Taxi Ltd. Sibhat Berhane says the company sent a letter to the mayor weeks ago about this issue. “We’re doing our due diligence…It’s not blaming anybody, but we did try and we’re here now.”

Council will discuss Shannahan’s request at a committee meeting March 25th.