Taxi demand in the spotlight in Vancouver as ride-hailing delays mount
If you’ve ever tried to catch a cab on Halloween night or during a rainy Saturday in Downtown Vancouver, you may have been left with the feeling that the city is facing a taxi shortage.
The growing demand on taxi services is facing renewed scrutiny with ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft expected to arrive at least a year from now.
Since 1989, the number of taxi licenses permitted in the City of Vancouver has just about doubled, from 448 to 883.
In that same period, Vancouver’s population has grown by nearly 200,000 people, from 450,000 to 630,000.
The city has also seen a surge in tourism, with about 10 million visitors per year, up from less than 6 million annual visitors in 1989.
For the entire Metro Vancouver region, there are now about 2,000 cabs on the road in total, 742 more than there were in 2005.
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In that same period, the region’s population has grown from 2.1 million people to 2.5 million people.
Vancouver city council voted to remove a moratorium on new taxi licenses back in April, giving 175 new permits, including 26 for wheelchair accessible taxis, to the city’s four cab operators.
That came after two prior votes in the two prior years that upheld the licence freeze.
The growing pressure on the region’s taxi system is no secret to Charles Gauthier, president of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
Gauthier said numerous members of his organization faced the problem on Wednesday, when they weren’t able to secure transportation during the day’s rainstorm.
“Certainly we are hearing about it. [We] heard about it today because we had a number of our members that were trying to get to an event and waited a long time for cabs and were not successful in getting cabs on time,” he said.
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Gauthier said it’s a growing problem, particularly in the city’s downtown core.
“[For people] trying to get the airport, individuals trying to get cabs at the end of the night in the Granville entertainment district. And our transit system isn’t 24/7,” he said.
“So certainly the pain we felt today was a fraction of the pain that other people feel on a regular basis.”
B.C.’s NDP government has commissioned yet another review of ride-hailing in the province, which will be completed next year.
The NDP had previously promised to have rules in place to allow services like Uber and Lyft in place by the end of 2017.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said n Monday that the government would not have a timeline for implementation of the service until at least next fall.
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