Fleet of new taxis take to Calgary streets

A new fleet of taxis has hit the streets, promising Calgarians a better chance of catching a cab in time for Stampede.

With about 70 cabs so far, co-venture vows better customer service than competition

Calgary United Cabs, a new company, officially launched in the city on Sunday. (CBC)

A new fleet of taxis hit the streets on Sunday and the company behind it is promising Calgarians a better chance of catching a cab in time for Stampede.

Calgary United Cabs, a co-operative with a profit sharing model for its 70 drivers, vows to answer the phone and dispatch cars faster than the competition.

"We want to make a better environment for the driver — working conditions — and we want to make better customer service for Calgarians, because they've been complaining that nobody's answering the phone," said Rupinder Gill, who is heading the new venture.

Gill is a former driver for Associated Cab who led some of his colleagues into a wildcat strike against that company last year.

Many of Gill's new drivers are disgruntled former drivers from other fleets.

"Nobody's listening to us. So finally some drivers sat down together and formed a new company," said driver Gurdev Sekhon.

"The main thing is our business model is like WestJet airline model ... I am the shareholder here, plus I am the driver and I am the car owner."

In addition to telephone dispatch, Calgary United Cabs offers its customers online booking and mobile apps for android or iPhone.

Coun. Ray Jones said he welcomes the new competition, but he'd also like to see more cabs on the road.

"More cabs are the answer to a point. But you want it so that the cab drivers are making money. If you flood the market with too many plates, nobody's going to be making any money," he said.