A new taxi bill of rights to improve cab service in Metro Vancouver was announced by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon on Wednesday.

Taxi drivers in Metro Vancouver will now be required to show a copy of the bill of rights in the rear passenger window of their vehicles. The bill states that passengers have the right to be picked up and transported to their desired destination.

If drivers refuse a fare, they could be hit with a $288 fine.

The bill states that passengers also have the right to:

  • pay by cash, credit card or accepted TaxiSaver voucher
  • a courteous driver who provides assistance if asked
  • a clean, smoke-free taxi that is in good repair
  • direct the driver on a route, or expect the most economical route
  • silence on request
  • a detailed receipt on request

The bill states the driver has the right to refuse a fare:

  • if a request contravenes a law or licence
  • to protect the driver's or passenger's own safety
  • if the passenger acts in an offensive way
  • if the passenger refuses to provide a deposit if requested

Falcon credited the new initiative to a CTV News investigation by Lisa Rossington on Tuesday.

"Frankly, this is in part due to the good work that CTV News has done to expose the problems for people riding taxis," Falcon said.

Last spring, that investigation found that taxi drivers in Vancouver were refusing fares and trying to negotiate flat rates.

Tony Bhullar of the Vancouver Taxi Association said the industry is pleased with the bill.

"We are especially appreciative of the fact that it identifies the rights of both passengers and drivers. In our opinion, it is fair and equitable, and as a result we will see better taxi service in Metro Vancouver," he said.  

The investigation stems from reports of people who were unable to secure rides with taxi cabs, including those trying to leave the downtown area late at night. Police raised concerns that some people were driving home drunk.

The bill was a collaboration between the transportation ministry, the Vancouver Taxi Association, the B.C. Taxi Association, taxi companies and local government.

The public can contribute feedback on taxi services through a toll-free phone line (1-888-564-9963) and website, www.taxirights.gov.bc.ca.

Regulation and licensing issues will be dealt with by the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA), the Passenger Transportation Branch, the municipality and the relevant taxi company.