British Columbia

Taxi industry hopes to placate customers before ride-sharing arrives in B.C.

Online ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are coming to British Columbia next year, meanwhile complaints about poor taxi service continue.

More cars should reduce waits, but customers still need to be patient, says B.C. Taxi Association

There has to be 'some sort of even playing field' between taxis and ride-hailing services, says Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

As ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are set to arrive in British Columbia next year, complaints about long waits for taxi service continue.

In response, the taxi industry says it's making moves to modernize its service by applying to put more cars on the road and offering discounts on rides booked through a taxi app.

"The complaints, I do understand," said Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association.

"I'm not trying to defend the taxi industry from the complaints or not improve service."

The province says new legislation will allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to do business in the province by late 2019. (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

Kang said he's not against ride-hailing services coming to B.C., but is concerned that the taxi industry will be at a disadvantage. 

"There has to be some sort of even playing field because you can't be cherry picking [regulations and restrictions]," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition. 

"Our concern from day one has been that there has to be safety issues addressed."

More taxis as a solution

Kang, who's been in the industry for roughly 40 years and driven taxis for two of those decades, says he acknowledges the validity of the complaints — and sees expanding the fleet size as the solution.  

The government approved a 15 per cent increase in taxi fleets across the province, which would mean 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland and another 200 throughout the province.

"There is a problem and I'm hoping that with the current increase, the improved service should be here," he said.

"The 15 per cent increase would help to decrease those complaints because when there are less taxis, there's more waiting period and you're bound to get complaints."

Customers have to show patience when there's bad weather or heavy congestion, Kang urges. (The Canadian Press)

But, Kang emphasized, more taxis won't always satisfy every customer.   

"There are certain days where it doesn't matter what you do, there won't be enough taxis — whether it's New Year Day or there is really, really bad weather or there's heavy congestion on the road," he said.

"At certain times, there has to be patience shown by the customers also."

Service should normally be provided within five to ten minutes, he said, but waits are sometimes an unavoidable part of life.

"People have to understand that there are certain times when you are going to wait — like we wait at the bank, we wait at the airport, we wait in the bus line," he said.

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are coming British Columbia next year but, in the meantime, complaints about the taxi service abound from long wait times to lack of availability. 7:59

The Early Edition