Taxis are a fairly integral part of metropolitan living. They provide us with rides to and from the airport. Taxis help us get home safely after a social night out. They give us a ride when our car has broken down and is in the shop. For people living in the greater Vancouver area, however, poor taxi accessibility is a problem that we have not found a solution for.
Too Few Taxis
Compared to some other major Canadian cities, Vancouver has about half as many taxis on the roads. This means long wait times due to the low supply and high demand, especially during peak seasons or bad weather. In an effort to somewhat improve this situation, Vancouver approved an additional 175 taxis to be added back in 2017. However, this still leaves us at a significant shortage.
With the demand for taxis being so high, long wait times are not the only problems that potential passengers face. Wrongful ride refusals are common, and have only been increasing in recent years. Between 2015 and 2016, official complaints against taxi drivers for wrongfully refusing a ride doubled.
The Passenger Transportation Board, who compile ride refusal data, acknowledge that the official complaints do not amount to the total number of ride refusals. Rather, they are likely just a small sample of what truly happens on the streets, but they help provide them with a sense of where the problems are.
Why They Say No
Commonly cited reasons for a taxi driver wrongfully refusing a ride to a passenger are due to the destination being far away or the method of payment being different than what the taxi driver would prefer. For people who are downtown, for instance, and are trying to get home to Surrey or New Westminster, they may be refused a ride. The main concern that this creates is over safety.
When people have a night out and are trying to get home responsibly, they should have access to a taxi. Without that access, they may be forced to resort to operating a vehicle unsafely, or walking long distances to find another taxi. Either way, the chances of them getting injured increases.
Passengers Have Rights
A great way to stay informed as to your rights as a passenger in a taxi is to read the Taxi Bill of Rights. There, you can find information about when a taxi driver does have the right to refuse a ride.
One example of legal ride refusal is if the driver’s shift is nearly over but your destination is far away. This is not the same, however, as refusing a ride simply for the distance. Brushing up on your rights as a passenger and the rights of your taxi driver is a great way to help maintain integrity within our taxi system.
Road Rules by Dominique McCrimmon and Cedric Hughes