It may not be top of mind for every Vancouverite who’s dreaming up their Christmas wishes, but getting Uber up and running sometime in 2018 certainly has a nice ring to it. Especially as the city’s cabbies keep doing their darnedest to stay on Santa’s naughty list.
Witness the latest evidence provided by a passenger heading back from a Friday night party who filmed his taxi driver refusing to take him home because New Westminster is “too far” and wouldn’t be worth it.
“Too far man,” says the Yellow Cab driver, who proceeded to drive around downtown Vancouver for five minutes while the passenger, Kuldip Gill, remained in the vehicle, recording the incident. “You’re probably going to lose your job over this, right?” Gill can be heard saying. At one point, the cabbie accuses Gill of being too drunk and a safety risk.
Gill told Global News that he’s had problems getting taxis to take him home before. “I lived in the West End for four years, and I had an issue trying to get cabs even then,” he said.
And while a Yellow Cab spokesperson has since apologized to Gill and reportedly suspended the driver, calling his actions “absolutely unacceptable,” the incident adds more flavour to the debate over Vancouver’s taxi industry and its sad struggle to keep ride-sharing services like Uber out of town.
Taxi reps are claiming that legalized ride-sharing would be a threat to their livelihood, and they’re spot on with that one, since for too long Vancouverites have had to contend with their inferior product. Too few cabs and higher fares than most other cities will do that.
And while the antiquated —some would say broken— taxi system is as much a provincial problem as it is an industry one, the cabbies themselves certainly haven’t made it easy to support them. For more proof, Blacktop and Checker Cab president Amrik Mahil spoke after the New Democratic Party victory in May and was found stooping to direct threats on the Uber issue. “Quite clearly, about four seats [in Vancouver] are attributed to the taxi industry and trucking,” Mahil said. “They know what will happen to them next time. They won’t form a government and they know that.”
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Vancouver, the largest city in North America to remain Uber-less, seemed ready to change lanes this year when the NDP took over in the spring, yet the new government has since pulled back on its campaign promise to let in ride-sharing before the close of 2017, now calling on a legislative committee to study the issue some more.
But fear not, friends, there’s reason to be jolly. Even as the standing committee’s findings won’t be available until February 2018, BC Green Party leader, Andrew Weaver, says he’s confident that the province will be giving the okay to ride-sharing sometime soon.
“My goal with this committee is to make this the last holiday season in which British Columbians are faced with fewer transportation options than every other major city in North America,” says Weaver to CBC News.
Let’s raise a toast to that. But just one, because some of us have to drive.