Long wait times for taxis in Châteauguay have caused residents to call for the ridesharing service Uber to operate in the South Shore city.
Frustrated by the slow taxi service, BLVD Bar and Grill owner Michael Ghorayeb started an online petition to bring the ride-hailing service to Châteauguay.
More than 1,000 residents have signed the petition, which started on Monday.
It can take up to two hours some nights for clients from the bar to get a ride home, Ghorayeb said.
The long delay is bad for business, Ghorayeb said, but it is also concerning, as clients tend to risk driving home instead of waiting for a taxi.
“When we have 30 to 40 kids leaving the bar who can’t get a ride home then hitting the streets at that time of night, either for them or the city, it is not a good thing,” Ghorayeb said.
There are only two taxi companies, Prestige and Oxford, that operate in Châteauguay.
The government has only allowed a total of 50 taxi permits in the area.
Servicing three cities — Léry, Châteauguay and Mercier — the two companies are spread thin, Prestige taxi owner George El-Assaad said.
“There is some waiting on Friday and Saturday, but we have lots of calls at night and we have less drivers but we do our best to serve,” El-Assaad said.
Ghorayeb says that at closing time, there is a rush, and many of his clients are left out in the cold.
The available taxis from the two companies give priority to the popular nearby Kahnawake casinos.
“I think Uber will alleviate a lot of the pressure. I think it will help us a lot to have an extra service at those times,” Ghorayeb said.
Châteauguay is currently outside of the Transportation Ministry’s pilot project area for Uber’s licensing.
In a statement to Global News, Uber said it always wants to “see more Canadians benefit from ridesharing.”
“When new regulations come into effect later in the year, we would welcome the opportunity to come to Châteauguay,” the company said.
New regulations for Uber are expected to come into effect in October, permitting the ridesharing service across the province.
Quebec Transportation Ministry spokesperson Martin Girard said the ministry will not comment on the petition but noted that Uber can offer its services in Châteauguay beginning in the fall when the new regulations will come into effect.
In the meantime, El-Assaad said representatives from both taxi companies will be meeting with city officials to discuss how to better provide service during the nightly rush hours.
El-Assaad said he will be adding more drivers on the weekend night shift.