Allan Riedlinger is annoyed but also mystified at why North Shore Taxi would reject more business coming their way.
Riedlinger, the part-owner of Sailor Hagar’s Brew Pub in Lower Lonsdale, says he tried and failed at getting the North Shore Taxi to pick up passengers in the early hours of the morning outside the pub.
It is a problem that he first noticed last fall. The pub closes at 2 am when they would start calling for cabs for customers who most likely have walked from their home to the pub but would prefer to go home on a cab.
Reidlinger says very few customers drive to the pub. Majority of the patrons are from Lonsdale and neighboring areas who most likely walk to the pub with friends or family. After an evening at the pub, most of those customers don’t want to walk uphill on Lonsdale to their home. But as they soon find out, going home on a taxi isn’t going to be as easy they thought it would be.
If the pub calls for five taxis, one might show up. It means customers have no choice but to loiter around the pub hoping for a cab to show up. Customers standing outside at 2 am means noise that disturbs the neighbors who then end up calling the police who disperses the patrons.
This cycle has continued for the last few months. “It is frustrating for our clients. Most of them are really annoyed and angry at why a cab won’t show up when called,” he said. Riedlinger has called up the cab company for an answer, but there was no acknowledgment or response to the problem, he says.
He recently appeared before the council and implored them to help him. The situation improved for a week after he appeared but now it is back to the usual — call five cabs well in advance and just one may show up.
“The city told me they have given 18 new licences to the company this year, but it doesn’t seem to have improved the situation here,” he says. As far as Allan knows, besides a few pizza places, Sailors Haggard pub is the only place to open as late as 2 am.
He says he fails to understand why the cab company would ignore a business that is there for the taking if only they could show up. Most of the patrons are from Lonsdale or neighboring areas, which makes the trips short and more lucrative.
“I don’t understand why they would hurt their own business by not showing up or doing something about this,” he wonders.
There was no response from North Shore Taxi despite several calls for an interview. While Riedlinger says he hasn’t ever used Uber or Lyft, he thinks a ride share could help ease the problem the pub is facing.
That solution might be coming in the form of Kater, a local ride-sharing option that is now plying in Vancouver. The Surrey-based company has a deal with the Vancouver taxi association for cabs that can be used for ride sharing, although unlike Uber or Lyft, the Kater cars can only be driven by licensed taxi drivers and has similar rates.
Critics, however, say Kater is nothing more than a cab service with another name and is being given preferential treatment by the government over established companies like Uber and Lyft.
“Kater is simply another form of taxi and doesn’t address the need for other forms of transportation,” according to Ridesharing Now for BC, a coalition advocating for choice and free-market competition. Vancouver remains the only major city in North America without ride-sharing options.