Vancouver taxi kickbacks draw complaints

Some taxi drivers in Vancouver are accused of making deals with hotel staff to nab higher fares.

Some Vancouver cabbies alleged to have struck deals with hotel staff

When you call for a cab in Vancouver, your request typically goes through a central dispatch. But some drivers are being accused of bypassing that protocol. (CBC)

Some taxi drivers in Vancouver are being accused of circumventing the central dispatch system by bribing hotel staff to call them directly with high value fares.

Carolyn Bauer, spokesperson for the Vancouver Taxi Association which represents the four big cab companies in the city, said that the association was aware of a handful of drivers who had made such deals last year.

"There was maybe six or seven drivers that were going around to some hotels and offering $5 to the doorman for trips going to the airport.," Bauer told the CBC.

But Bauer said, the association has dealt with the issue.

"We sat at the table and talked about this and brought it to the Vancouver Taxi Board of Directors' attention and they said 'This is not right, it's got to stop,'" she said. "I didn't hear anymore of it."

But now the Vancouver Police and the City have both received letters of complaint alleging that the kickback system has started up again.

Some drivers say the practice is understandable because some taxi companies have legitimate arrangements with big hotels which make other drivers feel excluded.

"That's why I think they are making them, because all the hotels they give the trips, or call only one particular company," said one driver who did not want to be named. "They should call all the companies, not only to one company."

As for what can be done, the Taxi Association says it is an internal matter that can be dealt with by talking to drivers, or if necessary, through suspensions or terminations.

The general manager of Vancouver Taxi told CBC his company has suspended people before for doing this sort of thing.

The police have not said if they will investigate the complaint.