– Taxis standing still as riders take Canada Line

METRO VANCOUVER
by JEFF HODSON

Airport cabbies losing money, waiting half days for single trip
Lower Mainland cabbies are feeling a pinch from the new $2-billion Canada Line.

Saif Ullah, general manager of MacLure’s Cabs, (pictured right) said in the past two days his drivers have been waiting at the airport for up to two-and-a-half hours to catch a fare.

“People are just taking the (Canada Line),” Ullah said.

“Our drivers are going there, spending half the day and getting one trip. Spending two or three hours and getting an $8 trip, it’s just frustrating for the guys. It’s not even minimum wage.”

MacLure’s spends roughly $8,200 a month for its 29 airport-taxi licences — the most licences of the four Vancouver-based taxi companies.

Under its contract, it has to have taxis waiting at the airport whether or not there are any flights.

In good times, Ullah explained, a driver would wait 10 to 15 minutes to catch a fare at the airport and make $200 to $250 at the end of a 12-hour shift.

After the downturn, wait times increased to almost an hour. Drivers were “scraping” for about $100 for a 12-hour shift, Ullah said.

Having an inexpensive option like the Canada Line is further exacerbating the issue, he said.
“People are trying to save money,” Ullah said. “If they can take the train for $5 and save $15 or $20, people are happy to do that.”

Hafiz Khan, general manager of Garden City Cabs, said his company is facing a similar situation in Richmond, even though it doesn’t have airport licences.

“If drivers stop making money, they’ll get frustrated and they may quit and look for something else,” Khan said. “Financially it will be a disaster.”

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