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Calgary looks to cut costs by moving taxi classes online

As Calgary looks for ways to save money on its four-year budget, one of the things it’s planning to do less of is provide class time to would-be taxi drivers.

Abdul Rafih, chief livery inspector for the city, said the classroom lessons, originally launched in 2006, were already scaled back from five days to two.

The lessons touch on subjects such as cultural diversity, driver safety, an overview of the bylaw and assisting passengers with disabilities.

In 2016, they removed modules on geography and on basic customer service.

“We felt that the drivers who operate under the banner of their brokerage or taxi company would receive that training through that avenue,” said Rafih.

Now the city is hoping to save more funding by moving the classroom online.

Rafhi explained that the online courses have interactive modules, videos and quizzes, but students can complete the work at their own pace, including around their work schedules.

“The training is not diminished,” he said. “We just asked ourselves over the past few years, how can we become even more efficient?”

In eight months since the online portal launch, 79 people have chosen to take the course in that way. Since the beginning of 2018, 318 have taken the in-person classroom training.

Students from either stream must still attend in-person to write and pass an exam based on the course material.

According to Rafhi, both online and classroom options will remain available, but the hope it that more people will chose to go online.

Rupinder Gill, a member of Calgary United Cabs, said he’s OK with the course begin offered online, but he’d like to see Uber and other rideshare drivers take the course, too.

“Everything should be fair,” said Gill. “If I have to do a two-day course, they should have to do a two-day course.

“This is not the same level playing field. One guy has to go through a regulatory body to do a business, and the other guy they’re bending over backwards for them so they can do anything they want.”

Gill may soon get his wish. Rafhi said council has asked administration if rideshare drivers should also be taking the course, be it online or in the classroom. That report is expected back in the second quarter of next year.