Month: October 2014

Winnipeg Taxis: In Short Supply

I have been in the taxi business since 1973.  I did spend several years as a professional jewelry appraiser and Graduate Gemologist.  I also worked as a manager for a large contact center.  My years in the taxi industry included driving, dispatching, training, owning and supervision. 

About 30 years of my working years involved taxis and I also developed a supreme knowledge of Winnipeg. Below is a section of the Taxicab Board website.  They operate currently under the provincial ministry of Municipal Government.  The mandate has not been followed.  Please enjoy the blog.

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The Taxicab Board is an independent quasi-judicial administrative tribunal established under authority of The Manitoba Taxicab Act to licence and regulate all taxicabs, wheelchair vans and limousines operating in the City of Winnipeg. As legislated, Board membership includes a member of the City of Winnipeg Council, the Chief Constable of the Winnipeg Police Force, and five other persons appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Objectives:
The mandate of the Taxicab Board is to ensure that persons within Winnipeg receive adequate taxicab service at a reasonable cost. The Board fulfils this objective through engaging in the following activities:

Conducts public hearings to consider applications for:
more and/or different classes of licences,
fare increases,
industry proposals,
interest group(s’) proposals, etc.;
Establish, review, and revise the limit on the number of taxicab licences, as determined by public convenience and necessity;
Control and issue taxicab business licences;
Review and approve taxicab business licence transfers;
Issue taxicab driver licences;
Facilitate training for taxicab drivers;
Assess and establish the fare structure and monitor actual rates charged;
Implement a comprehensive inspection program for taxicabs including general inspections, street patrols, mechanical inspections, and taxicab meter inspections;
Investigate and resolve complaints against taxicab operators and drivers;
Discipline taxicab operators and drivers by conducting Show Cause Hearings on perceived violations of legislation and regulations, or on complaints;
Monitor the accessibility of transportation for the physically disabled;
Monitor the health and viability of the taxicab industry in Winnipeg;
Determine policy and procedures which arise in the exercise of the Board’s discretionary powers and provide policy input to the Government on broader taxicab policy issues; and
Maintain a liaison with the taxicab industry, user interest groups, other taxicab regulatory agencies and governments.

Manitoba is the only province in Canada that has jurisdiction over the taxi business in its cities. All other cities in the other provinces control their mass transit including Taxis.

Winnipeg had 300 taxis way back in 1947. It was decided by the province that an additional 100 taxis was needed to provide employment for war veterans.  A company called Veterans Nash was formed in 1947.  That brought the total to 400 taxis in Winnipeg. 
Approximately 40 years later the province added 10 taxis in a luxury class.  These Cadillac taxis ran under a company called Blue Line, however, after 5 years it failed and those plates were converted to regular taxis bringing the total taxis in Winnipeg to 410.

Since then the Taxicab Board has added about 41 Accessible Taxis to the Winnipeg fleet. These are vans with wheelchair access. Total increase in 66 years is a whopping 51 taxis.  Winnipeg only has 451 taxis.  Compared to other similar cities we are very short on cabs.

The following statistics are drawn from Statistics Canada 2011-2013 and the Websites of the cities to be mentioned.

  • So, Winnipeg has 451 units to service 750,000 citizens or 1 taxi per 1662 souls.  Cost: $1.38/km
  • Calgary has 1466 units to service 1,214,839 citizens or 1 taxi per 829 souls.  Cost. $1.55/km
  • Edmonton has 1971 units to service 1,159,869 citizens or 1 taxi per 588 souls.  Cost.  $1.48km
  • Regina has 146 units to service 230,000 citizens or 1 taxi per 1250 souls. Cost. $1.81km

Winnipeg has the lowest cost taxi rides of the above samples. We also have a fraction of the taxis. Funny thing is that the price to pay if you want to purchase a taxi is about $450,000.  In the other cities named the purchase cost is a fraction of that.

Winnipeg taxi owners have a monopoly on taxis since the Taxicab Board supports this monopoly and refuses to allow more taxicabs in Winnipeg. 

Immediately, the new city council should begin negotiations with the province to take over the taxi service in its city.  The province doesn’t seem to realize that we have urban sprawl and almost twice the population since 1948.

The taxi service in Winnipeg is awful. So bad that a trip to our new airport can’t be guaranteed to be on time or even show up. 

If you go out for the evening and plan on a few drinks, do you deserve to wait 30 minutes to go out and even longer to return? Yes, if taxis were readily available we would reduce the drinking and driving.

Shame on the provincial government for not enforcing the mandate to provide service. It’s time to break the monopoly and bring Winnipeg in line with (at least) Regina. 1 taxi for every 1250 citizens. You want a better Winnipeg for visitors and its citizens. Start with the taxi service. It requires no civic investment. I’m embarrassed to have to force a 45 minute wait for a taxi at times. 

We should not be the lowest cost taxi and we should be able to service all of Winnipeg promptly. 

In closing, you should know that with the exception of Toronto and Vancouver, a taxi trades for 50 to 250 thousand dollars. Winnipeg = $450,000.

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From Ashes to Diamonds

My weekly blog post was going to be about the taxi business in Winnipeg. However, I stopped the presses! With a civic election looming in Winnipeg, I thought it was wise to delay that story until next week.

My number one daughter, Blair, came upon a blog about something I’ve known about for sometime. I think that this is an innovative idea and should be shared. Here’s why:

  • I am a Graduate Gemologist by profession, and as such, have become well aware of the process to manufacture Diamonds using heat and pressure.
  • This process has been used for years to manufacture idiamonds for use in industry and electronic technology. 
  • Now, a company has been created and creative in using the carbon in the remains of the cremation to manufacture a gem quality diamond, as a keepsake.  Here is the copy (originally posted on www.boredpanda.com) of the original blog explaining the process and associated costs of a different way to remember your loved ones:

Algordanza, a Swiss company, has taken a fascinating and unexpected approach to memorializing our loved ones who have passed; They will compress and super-heat your loved one’s cremated ashes and turn them into a man-made diamond that can be worn and cherished.

It all begins with a chemical process that extracts the carbon from the departed’s ashes. This carbon is then heated to convert it into graphite. That graphite is then heated to as many as 2,700 degrees Fehrenheit and subjected to forces as high as 870,000 pounds per square inch. The color of the finished diamond, which can range from white to dark blue, depends on the boron content of the ashes of the deceased. The prices begin at 4,259 Swiss Francs ($4,474 USD) for a small diamond with no additional service.

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Did we forget about Keystone XL to go to Iraq?

The Canadian Government is debating and ultimately will decide to join the USA in Iraq and Syria on a combat mission.

A combat mission from the air and no boots on the ground is devoid of Intel to determine targets. Canada, with its slashed defense budget, could better participate in humanitarian missions.

Since President Obama has yet to approve our Keystone XL Pipeline, in my opinion we should take a stand and hold back our troops until this approval is signed by POTUS.

As you can read below, the pipeline can only benefit both countries. Iraq and Syria can benefit no one in North America at this time. Harper needs to stand his ground!

Canada has done its part and has been a willing and patient partner throughout this process. This project will enhance our relationship with Canada and increase our drive towards North American energy security and independence, and there is no consultation required to arrive at that conclusion.

Keystone-pipeline-XL

Senate Democrats letter to President Obama in support of Keystone XL
Eleven Senate Democrats to President Obama
This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth and scope. It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally Canada, a direct route to our refineries. These refineries were specifically built to process heavy crude, and Canadian crude will help replace heavy crude imports from unstable and unfriendly countries like Venezuela.

Keystone XL makes sense
Alex Pourbaix – TransCanada Executive Vice-President
It has been our experience that with vigorous review and oversight, projects like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline can be constructed and operated without jeopardizing public health or the environment.

Letter to the State Department in support for Keystone XL from Missouri Gov.Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon:

“Keystone XL opponents are running out of straws to grasp. Now that the Inspector General has found no conflict of interest, environmental groups should join LIUNA and others and sit down to discuss an all-of-the-above energy strategy to address climate change issues. We continue to urge the President to approve the project. It will unlock new jobs for thousands of working men and women and harness energy that a trusted neighbor can provide. Keystone isn’t just a pipeline – it is a lifeline for working men and women and for our nation’s energy security.” With IG Finding, Keystone XL Opponents are Running Out of Straws to Grasp
Terry O’Sullivan – General President, LIUNA
“Killing the pipeline would have little impact on reducing the use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that they emit. The Canadians, if they don’t ship it through Keystone, it’s going to come by rail. The big winner from not building Keystone is Venezuela, because their heavy oil has the same carbon footprint as the oil sands. [So] Venezuela or Canada, take your pick. Who is your favorite country and who is your neighbor?”

Boston Globe — Fossil fuels remain at the forefront, energy expert says
Daniel Yergin — Founder, IHS CERA
“What we probably need is more of a pipeline infrastructure and to diminish the need for rail transport over time. Frankly, I think pipeline transport overall probably has overall a better record in terms of cost, in terms of emissions and in terms of safety.”

Energy secretary: U.S. infrastructure unready for rail-crude boom
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
The State Department’s latest report reiterated that Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline ever built in the U.S. if TransCanada agreed to 59 additional conditions — and we have. These include additional protections like more remote shut-off valves spaced closer together, high-strength steel, more frequent inspections and burying the pipe deeper in the ground. All five federal reviews have concluded that this pipeline won’t have an adverse impact on the environment or on greenhouse gas emissions. The heavy oil from the oil sands is less carbon intensive than oil currently produced in California.”

pipeline – it is a lifeline for working men and women and for our nation’s energy security.” With IG Finding, Keystone XL Opponents are Running Out of Straws to Grasp 
The Canadians, if they don’t ship it through Keystone, it’s going to come by rail. The big winner from not building Keystone is Venezuela, because their heavy oil has the same carbon footprint as the oil sands. [So] Venezuela or Canada, take your pick. Who is your favorite country and who is your neighbor?”

Energy secretary: U.S. infrastructure unready for rail-crude boom
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
The State Department’s latest report reiterated that Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline ever built in the U.S. if TransCanada agreed to 59 additional conditions — and we have. These include additional protections like more remote shut-off valves spaced closer together, high-strength steel, more frequent inspections and burying the pipe deeper in the ground. All five federal reviews have concluded that this pipeline won’t have an adverse impact on the environment or on greenhouse gas emissions. The heavy oil from the oil sands is less carbon intensive than oil currently produced in California.”

LA Times — Myth vs. fact on Keystone XL
Alex Pourbaix — President Energy and Oil Pipelines, TransCanada
The State Department’s latest study — the product of more than five years of investigation — largely confirms the conclusions of previous assessments and those of many independent energy experts:

Keystone report from State Dept. puts common sense back in the pipeline
Washington Post Editorial
“The total annual GHG emissions (direct and indirect) attributed to the No Action scenarios range from 28 to 42 percent greater than for the proposed Project [Keystone XL].”

Department of State — Keystone XL Final SEIS
U.S. Department of State — Final SEIS
The U.S. needs pipelines, “not only to improve conditions in terms of rail, but trucks. With the Keystone pipeline, we’d take 500 trucks a day off our roads in western North Dakota.”

Hoeven: Obama will approve Keystone — The Hill
U.S. Senator John Hoeven — North Dakota
Canada has done its part and has been a willing and patient partner throughout this process. This project will enhance our relationship with Canada and increase our drive towards North American energy security and independence, and there is no consultation required to arrive at that conclusion.

Senate Democrats letter to President Obama in support of Keystone XL
Eleven Senate Democrats to President Obama
This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth and scope. It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally Canada, a direct route to our refineries. These refineries were specifically built to process heavy crude, and Canadian crude will help replace heavy crude imports from unstable and unfriendly countries like Venezuela.

Fatih Birol on environmental subsidies, carbon emissions and climate
Faith Birol – IEA Chief Economist
Canada emits just 2% of global greenhouse gases, and the emissions from oil sands contribute 0.16% to global emissions. For context, three coal-fired power plants in the United States emit more greenhouse gases than the entire oil sands industry.

Keystone XL makes sense
Alex Pourbaix – TransCanada Executive Vice-President
It has been our experience that with vigorous review and oversight, projects like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline can be constructed and operated without jeopardizing public health or the environment.

Letter to the State Department in support for Keystone XL from Missouri Gov.Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
“Keystone XL opponents are running out of straws to grasp. Now that the Inspector General has found no conflict of interest, environmental groups should join LIUNA and others and sit down to discuss an all-of-the-above energy strategy to address climate change issues. We continue to urge the President to approve the project. It will unlock new jobs for thousands of working men and women and harness energy that a trusted neighbor can provide. Keystone isn’t just a pipeline – it is a lifeline for working men and women and for our nation’s energy security.” With IG Finding, Keystone XL Opponents are Running Out of Straws to Grasp
Terry O’Sullivan – General President, LIUNA
“Killing the pipeline would have little impact on reducing the use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, that they emit. The Canadians, if they don’t ship it through Keystone, it’s going to come by rail. The big winner from not building Keystone is Venezuela, because their heavy oil has the same carbon footprint as the oil sands. [So] Venezuela or Canada, take your pick. Who is your favorite country and who is your neighbor?”

Boston Globe — Fossil fuels remain at the forefront, energy expert says
Daniel Yergin — Founder, IHS CERA
“What we probably need is more of a pipeline infrastructure and to diminish the need for rail transport over time. Frankly, I think pipeline transport overall probably has overall a better record in terms of cost, in terms of emissions and in terms of safety.”

Energy secretary: U.S. infrastructure unready for rail-crude boom
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz
The State Department’s latest report reiterated that Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline ever built in the U.S. if TransCanada agreed to 59 additional conditions — and we have. These include additional protections like more remote shut-off valves spaced closer together, high-strength steel, more frequent inspections and burying the pipe deeper in the ground. All five federal reviews have concluded that this pipeline won’t have an adverse impact on the environment or on greenhouse gas emissions. The heavy oil from the oil sands is less carbon intensive than oil currently produced in California.”

keystone-pipeline1