The 229 cruise ships docking at Ogden Point this summer may bring in enviable tourism dollars to Victoria, but the increased traffic also presents a major safety concern to surrounding residents.
Each weekend, dozens of taxis funnel through the two-lane streets of James Bay, often prompting complaints about speeding.
“They just go fast – really fast. They don’t yield to pedestrians,” said Rhonda Schilling, who criss-crosses Oswego Street each day as a Canada Post letter carrier.
Reserve Const. John Varley voluntarily monitors traffic speeds across the city on behalf of Victoria police.
“Several residents have come up and asked us to be (on Oswego Street) at the time the cruise ships come in, because the cabs are just notorious for flying through here,” he said.
To appease humbugged residents, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has teamed up with local taxi companies and VicPD to penalize lead-footed drivers.
“The (taxi) permits now say if you are caught speeding, we will pull your (Ogden Point) pass for a period of time,” said Curtis Grad, harbour authority president and CEO.
“That’s something entirely new this year and it’s been a pretty effective tool and the taxi management companies have been fully supportive of that.”
The harbour authority uses two of its own speed monitors to keep track of taxis wanting to maximize on the more than 10,000 passengers and crew that arrive at Ogden Point between Thursday and Sunday in the summer months.
In mid-June, VicPD started an education program with taxi drivers servicing the cruise ship terminal, about the same time complaints started coming in from area residents.
“We will co-operate with them, we do worry about the safety of the people in the James Bay area,” said Surinder Kang, operations manager at Yellow Cabs.
Kang said he was only aware of one driver who has had a permit suspension after being flagged for speeding, but said the program will likely continue in the coming years.
“It’s just like the police giving you a ticket … I hope it deters and the drivers co-operate,” he said.
While Grad declined to give specifics on the number of penalized drivers, he said the perennial issue has been effectively reduced.
“It’s fair to say it’s got the attention of the drivers and the desired effect is there,” he said.
Between May and October, 675,000 cruise ship passengers and crew will pass through Ogden Point.