HRM residents say hailing a cab is difficult despite increase in taxi licenses
HALIFAX -- Whether it’s getting to work during rush hour, or waiting on a late night ride – many people say catching a cab in Halifax Regional Municipality isn't easy. Despite increasing numbers of taxi licenses in the city, those who rely on taxis say they're still waiting for cabs that don’t arrive on time – if at all.
"My wife sometimes takes taxis,” says taxi user, Ballab Chakra Barty. “She doesn't drive, so she has to wait for long. It has happened that she has left the house, and the taxi arrives later on."
Taxi drivers the HRM are self-employed and register for dispatch with a taxi company, known as a broker. Drivers create their own schedules, so there's not always consistency in the number of cars on the road.
"Monday to Friday, between seven and nine; if it's snowy, raining or really inclement weather, there will be more cabs – probably in the 150 range,” says HRM Taxi Association president, David Buffet. “Wait times are increased because we pick up somebody, and a typical cab ride that might take seven minutes, would take 15 because we're stuck in traffic."
The city says it sees the demand and recently made changes to accommodate the needs of people who use taxis.
"There are two different types of licenses: there are the owner licenses, which essentially is the roof light license, and there are the driver licenses,” says HRM senior communications advisor, Erin DiCarlo. “Regional council recently voted to increase the number of owner licenses from 1,000 to 1,600."
Compared to other cities, HRM has one of the highest cab ratios in Canada – with those in the industry saying adding more won't fix the problem.
"Sixteen hundred taxis should eventually be able to support our city,” says limo driver, Crissy McDow. “Whether they don't all work at night or are on different schedules, they work on their own – no one is forcing them on what time to go to work."
Meanwhile, some people feel adding ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft may alleviate taxi-related inconveniences. However, the HRM Taxi Association believes it will create more problems as drivers will trade in their taxi licenses to drive for an easier, less regulated ride-sharing service – leaving fewer taxis on the roads.