gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for February 16th, 2008

Taxi cameras: Do the math

February 16, 2008 @ 12:19 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

The press was reporting yesterday that the taxi union met recently and have decided that they’ll allow the cameras to be installed, but only if they get to pick the system.  The city has identified a system made by VerifEye Technologies which reportedly costs about $1500.  The union is complaining that this is too expensive.

While looking through VerifEye’s website, I came across the results of a study conducted by the City of Portland where they evaluated a number of different camera systems and determined that the images captured by VerifEye’s systems were better than the others.  (The results are also available in a PDF.)

Since the photos are going to be used by the police, it is reasonable to assume that you want the highest quality photos possible.  If you crop a photo to zoom in on someone’s face, you don’t want it to be all pixilated and fuzzy.  You want it to be clear enough that the individual can be identified.  Otherwise, there’s really no point in having the camera.

It’s been suggested in a comment on my other entry that perhaps the taxi drivers have spent the money they’ve been collecting that was specifically earmarked for the purchase of the camera systems.  This bears further investigation.

So, let’s look at how much money may have been collected by a cab driver since the city started allowing them to collect a extra money on each fare specifically to help pay for the camera systems.


  1. Each cab is on the road 6 days/week, or 300 days/year (allowing for 2 weeks of vacation).
  2. Each day a driver has 10 fares.
  3. The average fare is $15.00 according to the meter.
  4. They are allowed to collect $0.05/fare plus the difference between 7% and the current GST rate.  Because the GST has been dropping, let’s assume this to be 1.5% average for the period.
  5. As of today, they have been collecting the surcharge for 2.37 years (30 September 2005 to 16 February 2008).


(Fares_per_day) * (days_per_year) * (((gross_fare – flat surcharge) * difference_in_GST)+flat_surcharge) * (number_of_years) = amount_collected

= 10 * 300 * ((($15.00-$0.05) * 1.5%) + $0.05) * 2.37

= 3000 * $0.27 * 2.37

= $822.75 * 2.37

= $1957.48


If my assumptions are reasonable (and I have no idea if they are), it appears that a driver will have collected enough money to offset the cost of the camera system.  Even if my assumptions about the number of fares carried in a year are overstated by 100%, you can still see that a driver has probably collected enough money to take (most of) the sting out of the one-time investment of $1500.  This is further offset by the reduction in crimes against drivers that have been experienced in other cities when camera systems were installed.  I can’t understand why there would be so much resistance on the part of the drivers when they will experience the benefits first-hand.

Ultimately, this is one of the costs of doing business if you’re a cab driver in Ottawa.