After bars close, race is on to catch a cab
Published Wednesday, October 27, 2010 6:58PM PDT
A CTV News undercover investigation shows partiers in the Granville entertainment district throwing themselves into the street to flag down taxis in the nighttime crunch when the bars are closed -- and so is the SkyTrain.
Cab service that seems okay during the daytime is painfully inadequate between midnight and 4 a.m., leading those left in the street waiting as much as half an hour before they can make a trek home.
"It takes so much effort to find a cab," said 28-year-old Joel Eschbach. "It feels like this city is trying to get me to drive drunk!"
Vancouver has the lowest numbers of taxis per capita among major Canadian cities: one per every 1,067 people. In Toronto there's one cab for every 521 people, in Montreal there's 1 per 417, and in Calgary there's 1 per 941.
In 2007, a major political effort by the Port of Vancouver, Vancouver City Hall, and taxi companies secured 111 new taxi licences in 2007. But since then, there have been no new taxi licenses issued.
Licences are issued by the province's Passenger Transportation Board, which decides whether or not an applicant has demonstrated a need for the service.
The Board's chair, Dennis Day, agreed that there is a need at the peak periods at night.
"In the entertainment district, there is a need approximately 12 hours a week," he said.
But Day said his mandate is to only issue licences when approached by taxi companies or individuals. He denied applications five times because the applicants couldn't demonstrate need during the off peak periods as well.
"None of them could demonstrate a need, which is a requirement of our legislation," said Day.
When CTV News did a similar story three years ago, we found taxi drivers routinely refusing to take people to the suburbs. Short trips are much more profitable, because drivers don't get paid on a long return trip and can miss fares during peak periods.
Since then, the province brought in a Taxi Bill of Rights, which ensures that drivers take passengers where they need to go.
In our checks most cabs agreed to drive CTV News intern Keanan Kipp to Delta. But one Black Top/Checker Cab with the light on refused, saying first that he wasn't a Vancouver Cab, and then that his light was off. His story didn't add up.
"It was very confusing," said Kipp after the incident. "He couldn't give me a clear answer with his first reason, and it got more confusing as it went on. He didn't have a good reason for anything."
When CTV News asked Black Top Cabs later about the incident, a representative said she would follow up with the driver.
That was at 1:30 a.m. -- in the rush after 3 a.m. one pair of revelers told CTV News they had been denied three times to go a relatively short distance, just across the Cambie Street Bridge.
"I've been denied three times," said Daniel Bliss, who cut short the interview because he saw a cab with the light on down Seymour Street.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward and Mi-Jung Lee