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Tourism Vancouver wants more taxis for waiting cruise passengers
Waiting for a taxi is a familiar pastime in Vancouver, but cruise ship passengers disembarking on Friday faced excruciatingly long waits hunting for a cab at the city's downtown harbour.
Mark Bradvica was one of an estimated 8,200 passengers who came off of two cruise ships docking in the harbour that day. He says he spent two and a half hours waiting underground for a taxi to take him to his Vancouver home.
"They should have Uber, at least when it's really busy like this," he said. "People can't get off the boat when it's like this… there's not enough cabs."
He says if he had known how bad the wait would be, he would have left his own car parked downtown during his cruise. Tourists visiting Vancouver, however, don't have that choice.
Tourism Vancouver says that the city needs better ground transportation in order to accommodate its tourists.
Specifically, Tourism Vancouver is calling for more taxis and ride sharing options.
"Especially during the peak tourism season and on days when there are multiple cruise ships in port, major events or conferences taking place," spokesperson Amber Sessions said in a statement to CTV News.
But the Vancouver Taxi Association says it's not the number of cabs that caused long waits on Friday—it's the lack of road access to pick up cruise ship passengers.
"Maybe opening up the lower road [would work]. Because when you're in the parkade down there you can go down to the lower road," said Carolyn Bauer, spokesperson for the Vancouver Taxi Association.
She says that there were nearly 1,000 taxis on the road that day, and it was still "absolute chaos."
"Even if you put two or three or 400 more cars on the road, they're not going to move," she said, referring to the bottleneck getting taxis to harbour customers.
The situation is only expected to get worse for cruise passengers looking for a cab.
Bauer pointed to 'black' day on her calendar on Sept. 23 when 13,492 cruise ship passengers will be disembarking.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says it works with the city and with the taxi association to forecast the number of daily cruise passengers.
Carmen Ortega said that on Friday there were additional temporary taxis on the road operating licenses, but that other events in the city and the rain meant fewer taxis were available for cruise passengers.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith.