Sidney Taxi has suspended operations until further notice because of COVID-19, but one of its three shareholders and directors vows that the business won’t go under.
‘There is no way in hell we are going to let this company we have worked so hard for go under,” said Malcolm Brailsford of Sidney Taxi Wednesday afternoon after the company announced it is immediately suspending operations because the economics are no longer viable. Formed six years ago, the closure impacts 30 staff and six vehicles. Margins are tight for starters and if the business is not there, it does not make sense to keep going, he said.
Brailsford said the company has been trying to operate for the last 10 days with reduced service after business had started to drop off about 14 days ago.
“We are getting no more than two people a shift requiring a taxi and that is usually to the airport,” he said.
The loss of business started around March 7 or 8, starting with various care homes around the area that have contracted the company to transport residents. Because of the virus, they cancelled their calls, said Brailsford.
Seniors, one of the groups most affected by COVID-19 but also perhaps in need of the most support, make up a large share of the company’s customer base. Brailsford said cabs make between 150 and 200 daily pick-ups, more on the weekends.
“Our senior rate, Monday to Friday, is roughly 80 per cent of the business,” he said.
Seniors use cabs to assist them with their shopping, medical trips and other personal business, he said. But with the COVID-19 virus, they are staying in for their own safety.
Other factors included the decline in airline travel and restaurant business because of COVID-19.
The company initially tried to reduce service to two vehicles from six, but the demand did not even warrant that.
“It’s just costing us more money to just sit there,” he said. “There is no demand for taxi drivers at this current time.”
Brailsford said staff understand the circumstances and fully support the decision following a meeting Sunday afternoon held in a parking lot to ensure social distancing. He says business will resume the very moment it is feasible.
The company, in operation for six years, marked its fifth anniversary operating out of Victoria International Airport this week. “It’s a very sad [anniversary] because it took 18 months to get this company started because of the red tape. It took us forever to get permission to operate and I think you can tell in my voice it is very depressing. We have not lost the company. We have a lot of supporters.”
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