Vancouver’s taxi companies have been granted 58 temporary taxi licenses in a move that adds supply during the holiday rush, but it falls far short of the ‘pilot project’ application for 198 extra licenses.
The extra licenses go into effect today and will expire on January 7, even though the Vancouver Taxi Association (VTA) had applied for a period that lasts until March 7. The VTA represents Vancouver Taxi, MacLure’s Cabs, Black Top Cabs, and Yellow Cab.
In a ruling, B.C. Passenger Transportation Board stated that the application’s reasoning for additional taxis did not fit within the constraints of the Passenger Board’s policies. The surge in demand during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which is compounded this year by the free, public fireworks celebrations in downtown Vancouver, does not meet the definition of an “urgent” need.
“The purpose of Temporary Operating Permits (TOP) is to address a temporary and urgent need,” reads the decision. “Although the application package generally advocated a need for the proposed service it did not focus on the temporary and urgent purpose of a TOP from December through to March.”
“The data presented is not compelling as support for 198 TOPs to be put into service for a 3 month period, based on ‘urgent’ need.”
The Transportation Board also argued that Vancouver taxi companies can currently operate an additional 99 peak period taxis from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. throughout December, with extended hours on New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day – from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m.
It has been long argued that Vancouver’s taxi supply does not adequately meet the demand. There are approximately 600 taxi vehicles within the city of Vancouver and 1,500 across the Metro Vancouver region.
According to a SFU study last year, there are 1.17 taxis per 1,000 persons in Toronto, 1.34 taxis in Montreal, 1.24 taxis in Ottawa, and 1.37 taxis in Edmonton.
In contrast, Metro Vancouver’s numbers work out to 0.64 taxis per 1,000 person, which is the same as Calgary – a city with 1.4 million fewer people. These numbers are far worse when the boundary rules are taken into account: only a certain percentage of Metro Vancouver taxis can take passengers within Vancouver proper.