Taking taxis not easy for visitors to Vancouver


VANCOUVER – Cruise-ship passengers arriving in Vancouver must often wait two or more hours to get cabs, according to the president and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver.

Gordon Houston says he’d like to see an increase in the number of taxi licences in Vancouver, as would Tourism Vancouver and Mayor Sam Sullivan.

In an Aug. 26 letter sent to the Passenger Transportation Board, Houston says cruise ship passengers arriving in Vancouver at the Canada Place and Ballantyne terminals are often left waiting two or more hours for taxis.

“This increase is clearly needed in order to support Vancouver’s burgeoning cruise industry, a major contributor to the city’s economic success,” Houston writes.

One-hundred and eleven licences were issued for Vancouver in 2007, according to board secretary Jan Broocke, but so far none have been issued in 2008.

The concerns from the port come even after a taxi passenger bill of rights introduced by the B.C. government in January made it forbidden for drivers to refuse a fare.

“A perceived lack of service to passengers travelling through Vancouver could have consequences for the city, which benefits greatly from the presence of cruise ships,” Houston writes.

Tourism Vancouver echoed the call for more licences in a letter to city hall dated Aug. 27, saying it is important new taxis are on the road in time for the 2010 Olympics.

“We are entering a the crucial period of time between 2009 and 2011 when the world will be looking to Vancouver for a superior level of service as we experience expansion of the convention centre,” writes Geoffrey Howes, chairman of the board of directors.

Mayor Sam Sullivan supports the request made by Port Metro Vancouver, something he expressed in his own letter to the Passenger Transportation Board sent today.

“Last year, our city council supported a plan to increase Vancouver’s taxi fleet by 50 per cent,” writes Sullivan.

He adds that wants to ensure many new taxis are low-emissions vehicles and wheelchair accessible.