It’s time we give cabbies a break


Should taxis be treated the same way as other public transit vehicles?

For many of us who live in major urban centres and choose not to own a vehicle (or can’t afford one), taxis are an essential form of public transit that helps us to manage our daily affairs. In my own case, our family decided years ago that we’d sell our second car and use cabs and transit to get around when necessary. Not only are we saving thousands of dollars each year in unnecessary maintenance and fuel costs, we’re also reducing our carbon footprint. I must admit that we are also lucky enough to live in a community that has 5 star taxi service (Royal City Taxi) that gets you to and from where you want to go quickly.

There are few who could argue that cabs aren’t a vital part of keeping our cities operating efficiently. They also play a big role in helping to cut our overall carbon emissions by reducing the number of vehicles we need to purchase in high density neighbourhoods. If this is the case, why do they get treated like the same as the SUV your neighbour drives to work each day?

For years the Vancouver taxi industry has put forward the argument that taxis should be afforded the same treatment as buses. If they were, this would allow them permission to drive in HOV lanes during rush hour and be exempt from certain rush hour restrictions. For example, if the sign at a busy intersection says "left turn only for buses", they too could turn left. A number of restrictions such as "no stopping" signs also wreak havoc with the taxi industry trying to pick up elderly or disabled customers.

If you recall, during the 2010 Games the taxi industry went ballistic when it was revealed that they would not be permitted into the special Olympic only lanes. The policy decision was apparently made behind closed doors with little to no industry consultation. I never did hear if it got resolved, but it did help to highlight the problem our local cabbies face when it comes to being treated as second class public transit.

In the case of Vancouver, I don’t think moving to ease restrictions on the taxi industry is a major policy leap. After all, they continually boast they want to become the greenest city in the world. Isn’t allowing taxis to be officially considered as public transit not a "green" and low cost initiative that can be moved on quickly?

In addition to significantly adding more taxis onto Vancouver’s streets, this council should put this issue on their "green" agenda. With the stroke of a pen, they could decide to make taxis quasi members of the TransLink fleet and encourage even more of us to leave our cars behind. Meanwhile, other cities should follow suit and provide taxis with the same flexibility on our roads that people driving transit buses have. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment.

– Post by Daniel

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  • taxilover

    As a taxi regular, I couldn’t agree more. Drivers tell me councillor Meggs helped stop the addition of more cabs, also has asked for report to allow taxis in bus lanes.

  • Bill

    The taxi industry is a classic case of unintended consequences of government involvement in the economy. Restricting the number of licenses over the years caused the value of the license to skyrocket to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This results in the consumer paying too much for a taxi fare and too few taxis to supply the potential demand. Another reason why the City should sell all of the units in the Athletes Village and get out of the housing business before they screw that up too.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day
    “Make the standard rate, $100 per trip from the Airport to Downtown, and $50 from Downtown to the Airport. That way, we’ll encourage more people to leave this Vancouver Hole for better Holes.”
    I would also advocate in favour of all the Taxi Drivers to carry Heat…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e9CkhBb18E
    also, to include in the price of the trip, a rolled up courtesy joint, for the One Way only; for a Return trip a complimentary, locally grown fleur-de-lis should be added; and of course the promise to never take another wife phone call while driving you around the town.
    I also strongly suggest to add them to the Oh, So Growing List of professions that Vancouver Visigoths are eager to qualify to rent at the Oligophrenic Village. However, only Smart cars and Rickshaws should be allowed on the OV streets, due to the street design constraints.
    All Taxi Drivers in Vancouver shall speak with a Robert De Niro accent, have an acting background and sport on their bumpers the slogan…
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Wahoooooo

    One of the reasons that suburbanites drive vehicles into the downtown is mobility. Its not so much getting from way out in the valley to the downtown, but once you are here, you need to be mobile. Transit works on the major routes, but getting to within 8 blocks of where you want to be while its raining cats and dogs isn’t good enough. Taxi availability would go a long way to augmenting public transit for people who need the mobility once they get to the city. I agree that loaded taxis should be treated the same as bus and other transit vehicles.
    Another thing that would help the green footprint and probably also save a lot of money is to put transit down HWY 1 all the way to Abbotsford or Chilliwack as soon as the Port Mann is finished. The land is available, has little other practical use and would reduce the impact of the inevitable urban sprawl caused by the high real estate costs in the western parts of the lower mainland.

  • John

    One word: bicycles

  • Bird Ghost 5000

    Bikes are great John, but unfortunately my 95-year-old neighbour doesn’t have great balance.
    Not everyone has the ability to ride a bike up and down the hills of Vancouver. Most of the bicycle-centric European cities that the progressives demand we emulate are completely flat.
    We need MORE taxi licenses, for independant companies, not just Blacktop/Yellowcab (who just happen to “sponser” Vision Vancouver’s park BBQ’s)

  • John

    I was being facetious. The amount of respect bicycles get in this city in proportion to other modes of transportation is ridiculously high.
    It’s ironic: Regardless of the bicycling lobby’s constant whining about safety and lack of respect for bicyclists, it’s they who run into the 95-year-old pedestrians and zig-zag through traffic causing drivers to swerve out of their way.
    No, I am not an advocate of irresponsible bicycling. The purpose of my post was to shine a light on the current mayor’s love of bicycles.
    Good luck to the cabbies. They’ll need it.
    That is all.