Vancouver still a no-go for Surrey cab drivers

SURREY — Four Surrey cab companies wanting to service Vancouver’s downtown on Friday and Saturday nights are still in limbo, according to the president of the B.C. Taxi Association.

After almost two years, Vancouver city council has yet to change its bylaw to allow Delta Sunshine Taxi, Tsawwassen Taxi, Surrey Metro and Newton Whalley Hi-Way Taxi to enter the downtown turf between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

"I’m very surprised because the public safety is of utmost importance to every city hall. Why are they waiting?" asked Mohan Kang.

The issue of suburban cab companies operating in the downtown core dates back to 2012 when the Passenger Transportation Board approved 38 part-time cab licenses for suburban taxi drivers.

With TransLink offering limited service, the idea was to give party-goers more options about a ride home.

With taxi licensing in Vancouver, a person must have their license issued by the board and a license by the City of Vancouver.

However, the total number of licenses allowed in Vancouver is capped at 588, not including the new permits.

"I hope that Vancouver City Hall acts in a responsible manner and changes the bylaw immediately," added Kang.

But according to Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs, council has not been stalling in addressing the issue, but rather waiting for a court report to be presented.

After the board granted the new licenses, four Vancouver taxi companies – Vancouver Taxi, Yellow Cab, MacLure’s Cabs and Black Top – went to court to ban the suburban drivers from picking up fares in their area.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled against the bid last October, a decision upheld last month in the Court of Appeal.

"We haven’t met as a council since the court rendered its decision," said Meggs.

"We’re also seeking some legal advice about what it means for the city and the Passenger Transportation Board to have concurred jurisdiction."

Meggs added council has not been sympathetic to bringing in suburban cabs and "there’s no move afoot to allow Vancouver cabs to pick up in Surrey."

For Kang, the suburban cabbies are not taking any business from downtown drivers.

"In fact, they should be happy that it’s a complimentary service because at that time, people need it. They want to go back home safely," he said.

tverenca@gmail.com

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