The antics of Calgary City Hall never fail to amaze and depress a person. The city of Calgary has actually strangled taxi licenses so much over the years that “gypsy” cabs have been appearing to provide transportation to stranded and desperate Calgarians. In response to this issue, rather than address the gross shortage of taxis in Calgary, city hall’s top livery bureaucrat is threatening “grotesque fines” and even says there is a “covert operation” where these evil and uncontrolled drivers may be caught and charged for daring break Calgary’s archaic taxi laws. In Nenshi’s Calgary the truth is indeed often stranger than fiction.
Despite numbers painting a clear and hard reality that Calgary has a desperate shortage of taxis, Calgary’s city council still inexplicably continues to make excuses rather than pursue the rather simple and obvious solution of just issuing more damned licenses. Councilor Shane (Mr. Flipflop) Keating has spoken of a bizarre concept of temporarily deputizing drivers at peak times while most of the rest of council has stayed oddly silent on this issue.
Mayor Nenshi has gotten outright belligerent. A person innocently tweeted him to ask about this circumstance and got the arrogant and snotty response from Nenshi pictured below.
It’s just snowstorms Nenshi? Don’t recall many of them during Stampede or summer concerts. People should really expect at least some courtesy when they ask our mayor on a real and pressing city issue.
Why is it so complicated to simply release more licenses? Why are taxis so special and coddled as opposed to other businesses? Do we regulate how many restaurants per capita Calgary has? Car dealerships? Jewelers?
Excuses abound from Calgary’s city council. Even St. Nenshi has laid out the rather weak excuse that Calgary has a dispatch problem and suggests that changes to license regulations are needed rather than admit that we have a shortage of cabs.
The numbers make the fact undeniable (despite Calgary City Council’s denials). CALGARY HAS A TAXI SHORTAGE!!!!
Let’s look at the simple numbers here. In 1986 Calgary had 1311 taxis servicing a population of 640,000 making a taxi to person ratio of 1-488. Today Calgary has about 1500 taxis (city just added 55 precious new licenses) servicing nearly 1,150,000 people making a taxi to person ratio of 1-767. While the city population has nearly doubled, the number of taxis allowed has grown by less than 15%! If we are to insist on treating taxis like some special, precious commodity that needs such direct management we should at least increase the numbers to reflect population growth.
The density obsessed in Calgary’s city hall love to try and point to New York City as some sort of density paradise where people eschew cars. Well in New York City the cab ratio is about 1 for every 159 people. That ratio goes to 1-117 in Manhattan. That is around 650% more taxis per capita than we have in Calgary. How do they expect people to quit using personal vehicles when city council insists on strangling transportation alternatives? I assure you, folks are not flocking to the damned bike lanes in January.
How much longer do we need to see these headlines before our oddly silent city council will act on this very simple problem?
Temporary taxi stand idea aims to alleviate Stampede travel headaches (the stands were scrapped shortly afterwards and were an utter failure)
Excuses keep coming for Calgary’s taxi ‘service’ even when the cabs themselves clearly aren’t.
People had three hour waits for taxis at Calgary’s airport last week and many resorted to renting cars in desperation. While Calgary City Hall spends $500,000 on idiotic blue ring lightpost “art” in order to make us “world class”, we can’t apparently get our visitors out of the airport. While there may be outright dozens of folks drawn to visit our fine “Peace Bridge”, I can assure you that thousands of visitors got a bad taste in their mouths as their first impression of Calgary was waiting for hours to get out of the airport. World class indeed.
City addresses cab shortage concerns with the start of Ramadan
Yes, rather than address the shortage by putting more taxis on the street, the city erected a prayer tent for drivers. Brilliant.
Calgary cabbies buck bylaw, ignore customer calls a third of the time. Bottom line here is that taxi drivers are taking advantage of the critical cab shortage. They are purposely ignoring short trips from dispatch in order to cherry pick the more lucrative ones. The consumer as always loses.
Want a taxi New Year’s? One public official says… ‘Give up!’
The above advice applies to Flames games, concerts, Stampede of course, pretty much any last call on a weekend or any other time that more than an average number of people may want a taxi. You are not advised to wait a little longer, you are advised that it is hopeless.
The bottom line is that Calgary has a critical shortage of taxis. The next time a city official whether elected or not tries to claim otherwise, call bullshit on them and point them here. This is a simple problem with a simple solution.
With the vigor that many in city hall put into protecting the broken status quo in taxi management in Calgary, one is forced to wonder just who’s palms are getting greased here. To go to the point of sting operations for possible illegal operators? Unreal.
Calgary needs more taxis! Nothing less will address this chronic issue.
I visited Calgary this past November and needed a cab to get me from Chaparral to downtown. One hour, 15 minute wait to get it and $80, outrageous. I take cabs in many different cities all over NA, Calgary is by far the worst.
Nice article! While I must admit that my criticisms of Nenshi are quite limited, I was certainly surprised by his sarcastic reply. He didn’t address my responses and appears to have dodged the issue. I’d find it laughable if it were not so typical.
Gypsy cabs are more often than not owned and driven by ordinary people just trying to earn a living and managing quite nicely by charging people a third of what regular cabs do.
The next time you’re at a hotel and can’t get a licensed taxi ask someone who works at the hotel for the number of a good gypsy cab. More than likely they take them to work.
People don’t call 2, 3 or 4 pizza delivery restaurants and only accept the first to arrive; but that’s exactly what they do to taxis! When I work dispatch at night, over 65% of the trips I’m sent are “no-trips” that waste my time and force legitimate customers to wait even longer. Selfish people want instant service & frequently exaggerate about wait times when alcohol is involved. Other than the “Bar Rush” & a few other peak demand times, there’s plenty of taxis that often wait around an hour or more to be dispatched. Taxis are NOT immune to traffic chaos caused by weather, collisions & large special events either. When it takes 35 minutes to get passengers through traffic leaving the Saddledome or Stampede Park to downtown and another 25 to get back there again; even ten times as many taxis wouldn’t be enough! Take a reality check people! Blame needs to be shouldered by customers for unrealistic expectations during peak demand times. Flooding the market with taxis isn’t the answer! How many people complain so loudly about waiting in line for a table at a restaurant during a meal rush or for coffee in the morning? Stop blaming the drivers and dispatch for everything and start the reality checks!