WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg’s taxi industry is dealing with major challenges and drops in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, the Winnipeg Community Taxi Association met with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman to ask for a review of city policies and regulations to make sure the taxi industry can continue to provide service in the coming months.

“We’re all dealing with the pandemic and the costs,” said Joe Masi, a spokesperson for the association.

“Some of the issues (are) around the number of cabs that we need in our city. It’s just to look at the COVID world we live in now and maybe it’s time to have a look at things and hopefully make things better for the industry, for the city and for the people that use taxis so they have a better service.”

The companies said at one point during the pandemic they experienced as low as an 85 per cent drop in ridership. Now, they want to work with the city to help sustain the essential service as the pandemic continues, which would include relief on some of the fees the industry pays, as well as a review of bylaws.

“Four our business, there was a big impact with COVID-19,” said Tarlochan Gill, the chairman of Unicity Taxi.

He said a large part of the impact has to do with the fact that hotel, airport, and travel business has been slow during the pandemic.

“We have 30,000 fares from the airport a month, now it’s only 1,000 fares we are getting a month,” he said.

Gill added there have also been many added expenses for taxi companies during the pandemic, such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and protective shields.

Gill said the matter will be brought to city council next week, and he is expecting a positive response.