Vancouver’s Taxi Shortage, the Worst in Canada, is Both a Problem and an Opportunity

Canadian Business recently published an article about Vancouver’s taxi shortage, calling it the worst in Canada. The author went on to say that while it’s a huge problem, it may be an even bigger opportunity.

Vancouverites are certainly aware of the problem and were wishful that Uber could solve the problem.

Uber love in Vancouver was temporary. It wasn’t long before the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) of British Columbia had they say. The PTB sets rules for Limousine services in Vancouver and forced Uber to follow their $75 minimum trip rate, regardless of distance or time travelled. Goodbye Uber.

So what about this “opportunity”? Could another industry disruptor fix Vancouver’s taxi shortage?

Calgary’s FastCab is coming to town and thinks they may be the solution.

“This app was born of personal necessity and has a single focus of connecting legal taxi drivers with paying customers,” FastCab founder Jeff Doepker told Techvibes. “We see a great opportunity in the Lower Mainland as a whole and it appears Vancouver could especially use our service” he continued.

The app, which is available for Apple devices as well as Android devices, allows users to “flag” or “e-hail” nearby taxis without talking on a phone and then watching their taxi approach their location in real time. For drivers, the benefit lies in the security of knowing who is getting into their vehicle, knowing the passengers destination, and ultimately being more accesible to paying customers.

With fewer than 10 taxis per 10,000 residents, Vancouver has the lowest number of taxis per capita of all cities in Canada. This is an even more extreme case than Doepker’s home Calgary market, which has 13.2 taxis per 10,000 residents.

According to FastCab founder Jeff Doepker they have been busy planning and ensuring their systems are ready in case they gain immediate traction. FastCab has drivers signed up in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Delta, and Coquitlam.

Applying an app-based ecosystem to the Vancouver taxi shortage would be a major improvement. “It’s just personality and hustle,” Doepker recently told Alberta Venture magazine. “If you get good ratings more people are going to request you, and if you’re an asshole nobody’s going to get in your cab.”