Vancouver city council extends moratorium on taxi licences

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      A Richmond cab-company representative has told Vancouver city council that his dispatcher receives calls every weekend from people in downtown Vancouver seeking taxi service.

      But Peter Stamm of Kimber Cabs said that because his company is based in Richmond, he's not permitted to give them a ride.

      "People are steadily complaining that there's not enough taxi service on the weekend in downtown Vancouver," Stamm said. "People come from the suburban areas. After 1 in the morning, the SkyTrain is not running anymore. The buses run on long intervals, so the buses are full."

      Despite Stamm's concerns, Vancouver council has voted unanimously in favour of a staff recommendation to extend a moratorium on issuing any new taxi licences in the city until October 31, 2015.

      The general manager of North Vancouver–based Sunshine Cabs, Paul Gill, also objected to the moratorium on new taxi licences in Vancouver.

      He told council that in 2012, the Passenger Transportation Board approved 38 taxi licences, including 10 for his company, to operate in Vancouver on weekends. He said that those vehicles are still not providing any service in the city because this requires council's approval.

      "Please allow those 38 to be on the road so we can provide some relief for the people out there," Gill said.

      Council also voted today to ask legal staff to amend the vehicles for hire bylaw to address topics such as the maximum vehicle age, hours of service, window tinting, top-light operations, and assisting passengers with disabilities. One of the proposals calls for an increase in the fine from $250 to $500 for taxi drivers who refuse to provide service or take an indirect route.

      In addition, council voted to ask staff to work with the Vancouver Taxi Roundtable, which involves more than 50 stakeholders trying to reach a consensus on how to proceed in a rapidly changing industry. It not only includes taxi companies, but also officials in tourism and other areas.

      The roundtable will explore such things as low-carbon vehicles, bike racks, fleet optimization, centralized dispatch, and flat-rate fares.

      Coun. Geoff Meggs said that the original intention of provincial taxi legislation was to ensure there were providers of decent, safe taxi service in local communities.

      However, Meggs noted there have been many changes in recent years, including the growth of a downtown entertainment district, the rise of car sharing, technological changes, specialized service for people with disabilities, and more passengers coming through Vancouver International Airport and on cruise ships

      The Vision Vancouver councillor said that the roundtable's recommendations will probably be better than what outsiders would impose on the taxi industry.

      "I think everyone should realize it's not an open-ended proposition because what they agree to will not be perfect," he acknowledged.



      Finbarr Saunders

      Mar 25, 2015 at 2:29pm

      And the $50,000 donation the taxi industry gave to Vision Vancouver last election has absolutely NOTHING to do with it!

      Dr. Zen

      Mar 25, 2015 at 10:53pm

      Nice deflection attempt, but this is solely an attempt to stop Uber. Nothing less, nothing more.

      Michael Puttonen

      Mar 26, 2015 at 11:18am

      I think the threat of Uber has already imposed a moritorium of sorts. I'd want to know, though, just to be sure, how many taxi licenses have actually changed hands in the last six months? How many are for sale now? How long have they been on the market?