Keep taxis at home: Coq. council
Three Coquitlam taxi companies that want to run some of their cabs in Vancouver on Friday and Saturday nights are running into red lights from city hall.
This week, city council voted to write a letter to B.C.'s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) to oppose the bids from Coquitlam Taxi, Port Coquitlam Taxi and Bel-Air Taxi to have 15% of each fleet in Vancouver between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekends as well as during special events and when cruise ships are in town.
A total of 17 suburban taxi firms in Metro Vancouver have applied to have their vehicles in Vancouver during the peak periods, an idea offered last year by the PTB now being considered by the independent tribunal in Victoria.
PTB director and secretary Jan Broocke told The Tri-City News Thursday no decision has been made on the applications, which are being supported by the BC Taxi Association. Earlier this year, association president Mohan Kang told Black Press there's a dire need for more cabbies in Vancouver, where only four companies — Yellow Cab, Black Top and Checker Cabs, MacLure’s and Vancouver Taxi — hold licences.
"We are not going after their regular business," Kang said. "We're only after the times they cannot serve the general public for a safe ride home."
A call to Bel-Air Taxi was not immediately returned Thursday.
Bel-Air has 46 vehicles while Coquitlam Taxi has 31 in its fleet and Port Coquitlam Taxi 14.
At Monday's city council meeting, councillors Linda Reimer, Lou Sekora and Terry O'Neill said they are in favour of the taxi companies' bids (Reimer and Sekora received campaign donations from Bel-Air in last November's civic race). But the majority of council complained about the lack of taxi service currently available for local residents, especially when it rains or when bars close.
Mayor Richard Stewart said the issue is complex. Many Vancouver taxi drivers don't want to ferry passengers to Coquitlam — a bill that runs around $60 — and return with an empty cab. As well, public transit is lacking in the community, especially late at night, leaving downtown revellers little choice when it comes to alternate transportation.
Stewart said when the Evergreen Line comes to Coquitlam, scheduled for the summer of 2016, he would like to see the rapid transit line run until 2 a.m.
Demand for taxis has also grown since B.C. imposed much tougher roadside penalties for drinking drivers in the fall of 2010.
"Sending taxis downtown doesn't mean our kids will be brought home in them," Coun. Brent Asmundson said.
In addition, the mayor said the city doesn't have enough taxis for the disabled, and if they are on the road, often they're used to take fares to the airport because they have sufficient room for luggage.
Meanwhile, Coquitlam council unanimously okayed Royal City Taxi's bid to the PTB to increase its local fleet by 15 and the number of accessible taxis by three.
— with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press