Taxis hope to cut down on fare-evading passengers

Greater Victoria cabbies looking for 'bill of rights' similar to Vancouver

Taxi drivers in the Capital Region are hoping for better protection when asking for upfront payments from customers.

Pending approval from the Ministry of Transportation, all Greater Victoria cabs will be required to display the Taxi Bill of Rights in their vehicles as of Oct. 1, something Metro Vancouver cabs have been doing for the past four years.

The bill clearly states the rights of drivers and passengers and helps drivers avoid being questioned when refusing service.

“Right now, if a passenger says, ‘I’m not paying you unless you show me the law,’ we can’t do much about it,” said Kuldeep Singh, Greater Victoria Taxi Association president.

The Taxi Bill of Rights allows drivers to point out specific regulations to irate passengers, he said.

“Usually, it’s at nighttime when people are a little bit drunk and want to go somewhere (when they) don’t have the money,” said Blue Bird cab driver Rakesh Kohli. “Daytime incidents are really rare, but it does happen.”

Under current provincial regulations, drivers have the option of requesting a deposit from passengers. If the passenger refuses to provide upfront payment, the driver can refuse service.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which regulates taxi companies in the province, was lobbied by the Greater Victoria Taxi Association in April to support the expansion of the Taxi Bill of Rights beyond Metro Vancouver cabs.

“The board is definitely supportive of (the expansion),” said board director Jan Broocke. “It benefits both passengers and drivers and we have heard positive comments from it in the Lower Mainland.”

Sandi Poulin of Yellow Cabs expects passenger collateral – unclaimed drivers licences, wallets and jewelry left behind in lieu of payment – to decrease if the Taxi Bill of Rights is rolled out across the region.

“It’s like $70 to replace a drivers licence, so you would think they’d come in and pay their fare, but I’ve got lots sitting here that have been here a few months,” she said.

Singh said support is unanimous for the proposed expansion.

“(The board) told us they’ll have everything ready for the October meeting, that’s what they told us,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation said they have not yet received a formal request to expand the Taxi Bill of Rights to Greater Victoria.

dpalmer@vicnews.com