Taxi drivers trying to ride out historic high gas prices

Loran Coleby, who has been a taxi driver for about six years, is one of many Bahamians working in the public transportation industry being negatively impacted by the rising cost of fuel.

When the year started, a gallon of gas cost a little more than $5.

Now, the cost of gas is $6.97 at Shell, $6.98 at Rubis and $7.39 at Esso.

The price of diesel is $6.68 at Shell, $6.43 at Rubis and $6.24 at Esso.

“It’s bad because you don’t make as much money anymore,” said Coleby as he waited on Bay Street for a potential customer yesterday.

“You have to fill up with gas almost every three days. I don’t fill my own because it would be too much on the daily cash flow, so I put like $20 at a time.”

At the current gas price, that $20 only gives him just under three gallons of gas, he said.

Coleby said business has slowed down.

“Usually, around the summer months, taxiing gets very slow,” he said.

“It’s really hard right now because business is slow and the gas prices have made the profit margin very small.”

Alfred Smith, a taxi driver of 15 years, who also spoke with The Nassau Guardian on Bay Street, pointed to the sudden rise in consumer prices this year.

He noted that taxi fares have remained the same despite the increased costs.

“What you could have done a certain time ago before this rise, it’s more like doubled,” Smith said.

“You still have to function on the same fares legalized by the system and it’s eating into our profits.”

Smith said the government should increase the fares to bring some relief to the industry.

“They are wasting a lot of time instead of being precise and making that move now to do something,” he said.

“All it’s doing now is driving us deeper, deeper, deeper. It’s getting worse and worse and the prices just keep going up and up. It’s like no relief in sight.”

Bus drivers are also having a challenging time given the rising costs.

Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby-Davis said yesterday Cabinet is still reviewing a request for fare increases for bus operators.

“I can advise that my ministry met with the [minister of economic affairs] to design and structure a temporary relief package for the bus industry,” Coleby-Davis said.

“He will be providing further details to my ministry and we can further advise the public. The aim is to have the details of this package before July 1, 2022, so that we can inform the recipients.”

On Tuesday, Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper warned Bahamians that there is no end in sight to high fuel prices.

He encouraged Bahamians to conserve.

But for many people, like Kevin Knowles, who has been a tour operator for 24 years, that is not an option.

“I have to keep my vehicle with gas because I’m constantly on the move,” Knowles said.

“I find with the prices the way they are now, it’s best to keep the vehicle full. So, I fill it one time and as it goes to the quarter tank or so, I put more in it. It eases the burden a bit, but it’s ridiculous how the price of gas is rising.”

Knowles said he has gotten sufficient customers to offset the rising costs.

Mark Burrows, who has been a taxi driver for nearly 20 years, said he is just “going along with the punches” until the situation improves.

“You either let it break you or you break it,” said Burrows, who returned to the industry about a month ago.

“You’re not going to stay home because gas is $7 and say, ‘Well, it’s too high.’ You have to go out there and make it happen.”

Burrows said he is sure that everything will work out.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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