A Vancouver bartender is calling for the province to speed up plans for ride-hailing now, after what he describes as a “nightmare” taxi experience on his way home from work.
Johnny Griffin says he was kicked out of a cab because his destination was too far and he refused to pay up front, only to have the vehicle speed off with the door still open.
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It happened around 3:45 a.m. Sunday morning, when Griffin says he was heading home after a late shift at work.
He flagged a Black Top and Checker Cab, but he says before he got in the driver was already quizzing him about how far he was going.
He climbed in anyway, then told the driver he was headed to 14th Avenue and Blenheim Street, deep in Kitsilano’s west side.
Griffin said the driver was complaining that the destination was “very far,” when he noticed something wasn’t right.
“At this point, I noticed he hadn’t switched on his meter at all and the light was still on outside the taxi, there was people still flagging him down because they thought he was available,” he said.
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At that point, he said the driver asked how he was paying. He says when he told the driver it would be cash, the man demanded he pay up front.
Griffin said when he refused, the driver circled the block and gave him an ultimatum.
“He pulled in, and he said to me either pay now or get out.”
He said he decided to get out, and asked the driver for his information so he could lodge a complaint. But before he could get the details, he says the driver sped off.
“As I planted my second foot on the ground he took off at high speed,” Griffin said.
“Took off, rear door wide open, took off maybe 20, 30 metres down the street, door wide open endangering pedestrians, endangering me. … It was recklessness of the highest degree.”
Griffin said he immediately went onto the company’s website to file a complaint.
But Black Top and Checker says it never received the report from Griffin.
In an email, operations manager Saurabh Bahl said the company does take all complaints seriously.
“We generally do not get many complaints over the weekend but these kinds of issues are very rare and are handled with utmost priority.”
For Griffin, who says he commutes home from work by taxi up to five times a week, the incident has permanently soured him on cabs.
He says it’s time for the government to get serious about ride-hailing services like Uber.
“I have never, ever had a bad ride-sharing experience,” he said.
“I have had an absolutely horrific, horrific experience with taxi companies this weekend. It’s lost my total faith.”
B.C.’s NDP government has not committed to having ride-hailing in place by Christmas 2018, but says there will be an announcement on the file this fall.
-With files from Niki Reitmayer