A fine, suspension or even loss of a taxi licence are penalties the City of Calgary says a cab driver could face for reportedly abandoning a 17-year-old Ontario girl outside YYC Calgary International Airport on the weekend.
Pamela Ludlow said her 17-year-old daughter, Ava, had been in Alberta visiting friends in Medicine Hat over spring break but on her way back, the weather took a turn and her flight scheduled for Saturday night was delayed and eventually cancelled.
It was arranged for Ava to spend the night at the nearby Sandman Hotel, about a 10-minute drive away from the airport. Ava said she was going back and forth between the shuttle and cab lines as the shuttles kept filling up. She eventually hailed a taxi outside the airport and when she got in and told the male driver her destination, he promptly refused to drive her.
“He told me that he could not take me there because a shuttle could take me and other people were waiting,” Ava said.
Ava said after she explained her situation and what had happened with her flight, the driver asked her to get out, back on the side of the road in the cold.
“So she was sort of stranded in the middle of the night, not knowing what to do because this was her first experience flying solo,” Pamela said via FaceTime from Ontario on Thursday.
After waiting again at the shuttle location, Ava eventually found one early Sunday morning that was heading to the hotel. While it was full, a teacher onboard with a class of 26 students insisted she get on and sit half on her lap for the duration of the ride.
“When flights are delayed and flights are cancelled, there is nothing you can do,” Ludlow said.
“Seeing that grown man would leave somebody in the middle of the night to fend for themselves, I just think, if they had kids, would they do that?”
The city confirmed on Thursday that it started investigating the situation once it received a complaint on Tuesday evening. In collaboration with the Calgary Police Service and the airport authority, they were able to identify the driver in less than 48 hours.
“The vehicle involved in this incident was an Associated Cab,” Abdul Rafih, the city’s chief livery inspector said.
“They were very disappointed with the actions of their driver.”
The driver was interviewed on Thursday afternoon by Calgary Community Standards peace officers and was confirmed to have been on scene at the time.
“The driver has co-operated and is co-operating with our investigation,” Rafih said.
The circumstances around why the taxi driver refused the trip are part of the investigation, Rafih said.
Possible penalties are a fine up to $700, a suspension under the city’s livery bylaw or lose their licence to operate in the livery industry.
“I love that the City of Calgary took it seriously and did something about it,” Ludlow said.
Rafih said the city received about 40 complaints per year concerning ride refusals.
“Regardless of duration and length of trip, all drivers must accept all trips.”