Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Metro needs more taxis

with 5 comments

The Province

Metro Vancouver is getting in on the act.

a recent report by Metro Vancouver staff shows that the taxi service level in this region averages one cab per 1,523 people.

Compare that to the average of one cab for every 930 people in large North American urban centres, one cab for every 709 people in Calgary or one cab for every 540 people in Toronto.

Toronto actually tackled issue of taxi licensing head on and created a lot more of them. That is why there are now more cabs there.

Gord Robson [Mayor] of Maple Ridge, has called for a major review of Metro Vancouver’ cab industry.

That led to a decision on Friday by Metro Vancouver to initiate a study on transferring licensing jurisdiction of our cab companies from the B.C. government to TransLink.

But Translink is now directly controlled by the Province. They appoint the Board – and are qualified solely in terms of the business experience. So they are unlikely to be any more sympathetic to public concerns then the vested interests of the business people who have invested a lot of money in securing one of the currently rare licenses. And why would the province scrap the Passenger Transport Board – which it could have done when it reformed the Motor Carrier Commission. Is it really defensible that Metro Vancouver have a different system of taxi licensing than the rest of the Province? If Maple Ridge – why not Abbotsford?

If you have not been here before the subject of taxis has been covered (just click the taxi link under categories). I will be very surprised indeed if the present government listed to Metro. I would even more suprised if any new taxi controlling organisation was more responsive to public needs than entrenched, politically well connected, taxi license holders.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Posted in taxi

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5 Responses

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  1. I have never understood the limitations on the number of taxicabs. Licensing, qualification and operations rules, sure. But why limit the numbers? It seems to me that anyone who can qualify should be allowed to work the streets. The market will quickly determine how many are actually going to make a living out of it.

    Can anyone tell me why there are limits?


    September 9, 2008 at 7:06 am

  2. Steven,

    The province does not appoint TransLink’s Board. The province has one of five people on the screening panel that identifies candidates that meet the criteria. The finalists from this screening process are presented to the region’s Mayors, and it is they who select the Board.


    September 9, 2008 at 7:13 am

  3. Jack
    The Purpose of limiting license numbers is to protect the interest of license holders, which benefits from restricted competition. The proponents of such schemes like to suggest that the risk of the streets being flooded with taxis must be prevented. It seems to me to be a risk worth taking, but then I do not have a taxi license to rent out or sell.


    A very fine distinction. In terms of the process, yes you are right. But the Province decided to change the way the Board worked and passed legislation to make it so. The process it set up was to ensure that there was no longer a Board that could take a principled stand against the Province imposing its will on the region – as it had with the Canada Line. And so far that process is working as intended. The Board now does not meet in public. We have no way of telling what happens there, and we are powerless to do anything about it even if it leaks. It is neither representative nor responsible. Which is what Mr Falcon intended, and most people recognize the new Board for what it is. Mr Falcon’s poodle.

    Stephen Rees

    September 9, 2008 at 7:34 am

  4. The licensing problem is easy to solve. You tell the current license holders that licenses will expire in, say, five years and will not be renewed. That gives them enough time to revamp their business model. Absolutely no reason why the public should suffer because of restrictive trade practices, especially those imposed by so-called free enterprise governments.


    September 9, 2008 at 10:08 pm

  5. […] as Minister of Transport and of deregulation during that time. The PTB is the successor to the Motor Carrier Commission who I have also looked at a while ago. Then I was on about taxis but so far as I can see I have not […]

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