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Posts Tagged "taxi"

9Jul

Taxi borders won’t change under B.C.’s new ride-hailing regulations

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Taxi cabs will keep their municipal boundaries even when ride-hailing is introduced in B.C. later this year.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

VICTORIA — Existing boundaries for taxis in most of B.C. won’t change with the introduction of ride-hailing later this year, according to the independent tribunal charged with making the decision.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which will set boundaries and fares for ride-hailing and taxis by next month, is not considering any large-scale changes to current taxi areas that are often based on regional or municipal borders.

“As an administrative tribunal we’d have to discuss changes of boundaries and that would be very contentious and time-consuming and yet another delay in implementing ride-hailing,” board chair Catharine Reid said Tuesday. “And we don’t want a delay in implementing ride-hailing.

“The second reason is we don’t have good origin destination information. So if we try to change taxi boundaries, we don’t know if we’ll make things better or worse.”

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft can begin applying for licences in B.C. on Sept. 3, after the B.C. government announced Monday it has set the licensing and insurance regulations. Premier John Horgan has said ride-hailing could be in operation by the end of the year.

Drivers must have a class four commercial licence, and companies will be required to pay a $5,000 fee as well as a 30-cent-per-trip levy to improve accessibility services, under the government rules.

But the exact details on fares and boundaries are to be set by the Passenger Transportation Board, which is an independent tribunal.


The Uber app is displayed on an iPhone as taxi drivers wait for passengers at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Reid and the board began public discussions on those issues with taxi companies in Prince Rupert on Tuesday. She said the rest of the taxi sector, as well as ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will be consulted by the end of next week.

“The policy will be up sometime in August that will provide policy on boundaries, fleet size and rates,” she said.

Uber and Lyft have said they want to operate free of borders, to give their drivers flexibility on responding to demand for a ride anywhere.

The taxi sector is divided on the issue. Eliminating borders could solve problems like “deadheading” — where taxis from Vancouver, for example, take a passenger to Surrey but can’t pick up anyone on the return trip due to licensing restrictions. But removing borders could also devalue taxi licenses that hold value based on their scarcity in a certain area, causing significant financial losses for companies, drivers and those who’ve borrowed money to purchase or lease part shares in vehicle licenses.

The board has released two public discussion papers that lay out its options.

For the rest of the province outside of Metro Vancouver, it offers no options to change taxi boundaries. The report says ride-hailing companies could either follow the same borders, or be given larger regional or provincial areas in which to operate, depending on industry feedback.

In Metro Vancouver, three of the four options proposed would keep the existing municipal taxi boundaries for Vancouver, Surrey and elsewhere.

However, one option does propose opening up the Metro Vancouver region as a single area in which both ride-hailing vehicles and the traditional taxi sector could operate equally.

“It is not clear that taxis would want this approach as they are free to launch their own (ride-hailing) service and could also maintain the advantages of taxis that each has within their current operating area,” read the board report.

Related

An open metro region would give the public “faster and more reliable service, including at peak times,” reduce the numbers of trips refused and tackle the problem of deadheading, according to the report.

However, it would also result in “taxi service likely reduced for suburban areas,” wrote the board.

Taxi licenses would see a “large reduction” in value if ride-hailing was region-wide or provincewide, especially in the City of Vancouver, according to the report.

The B.C. Taxi Association, which attended consultations in Prince Rupert on Tuesday, said all boundaries should be removed for everyone.

“There’s no need for boundaries,” said president Mohan Kang. “If they have the ability to move around Metro Vancouver, so should we.”

The Vancouver Taxi Association, where taxi licenses hold the most value and its operators face the largest risk, could not be reached for comment.

The Passenger Transportation Board is also considering whether to limit the size of ride-hailing fleets, but its discussion papers note that no other governments do so and it would be impossible to set a defensible limit.

Fares are also up for consideration. The board notes no other governments impose maximum price limits on ride-hailing, despite concerns about surge pricing during peak demand. One option up for consideration is setting the minimum fare for an Uber or Lyft ride at the same rate as a taxi, or setting no minimum rate at all.

Uber and Lyft declined to comment. Both oppose B.C.’s class four commercial licence requirement and neither company so far has committed to opening in the province later this year.

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5Jun

‘I am afraid’: Taxi driver’s sexual assault to result in deportation to India | CBC News

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In his bid to remain in Canada, Gurpreet Singh Gill lamented the impact of his crime on many collateral victims.

His wife — who faces the loss of her home. His daughter — who may have to leave private school and dance lessons. His son — born 10 days before Gill sexually assaulted a passenger in his taxi cab in 2012.

But there’s one victim the 42-year-old didn’t mention in his plea for compassion from a Canadian Federal Court judge: the young woman who said Gill’s actions changed her life forever.

“I am already filled with regret from my actions and conviction. I have brought shame to my family, and I understand that there are consequences for my conduct,” Gill wrote in an affidavit sworn to bolster his case to avoid deportation.

“However, my deepest regret is that my children will suffer for my conduct.”

A ‘tipsy’ passenger

Last week, Judge Luc Martineau dismissed Gill’s application for a judicial review of an immigration officer’s decision to reject the Surrey man’s attempt to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The ruling brings to an end a tragic journey that began with Gill’s arrival in Canada a decade ago with his wife and young daughter.

Although highly educated, he was unable to get his Indian degrees accepted for Canadian certification and ended up working as a Yellow Cab taxi driver.

Gurpreet Singh Gill was working as a Yellow Cab taxi driver when he sexually assaulted a young female passenger in September 2012. (Shutterstock)

And on Sept. 2, 2012, at approximately 1:45 a.m., a woman referred to in court documents as K hopped into the front seat of his cab after leaving a bachelorette party.

She was tipsy. And after giving directions to her boyfriend’s house, K fell asleep.

Gill put the visor on the passenger side down, blocking the security camera’s view of the inside of the cab — a factor the sentencing judge would later claim as aggravating.

According to the record of the case, Gill touched K’s leg and she brushed his hand away, saying “no.” He then pushed her underwear aside and stuck two fingers into her vagina.

“Ms. K reacted by saying ‘stop’ and hitting the accused’s forearm. She then moved closer to the passenger side door,” the sentencing decision says.

Gill “tried to kiss her, and ultimately slobbered on Ms. K’s left lip and cheek area.”

He dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house and in the hours that followed, she underwent a forensic sexual assault examination at B.C. Women’s Hospital.

Referred to his sexual assault as ‘non-violent’

The subject of Gill’s possible deportation came up during the sentencing proceedings, because the judge was asked to consider a suspended sentence or a maximum of six months less a day — both of which would have seen him stay in Canada.

But the sentencing judge rejected that logic.

“This was disgraceful and disgusting conduct committed by a man in a position of trust who Ms. K was entitled to believe would transport her in a safe and reliable environment to her destination,” wrote B.C. Supreme Court Justice Patrice Abrioux.

Gurpreet Singh Gill fought his sentencing and conviction all the way to B.C.’s Court of Appeal, and he fought his deportation in Federal Court. He has lost every step of the way. (David Horemans/CBC)

A jury convicted Gill in 2014 and he was sentenced to three years in 2015. He fought the case to B.C.’s Court of Appeal, where his sentencing and conviction were upheld in 2017.

According to the Federal Court ruling, Gill’s wife and daughter didn’t tell his six-year-old son that he was in jail.

“They tell him that their father is working ‘there’ and because it is far from their home, he has to live there,” the decision says.

He was granted day parole, but the parole board denied Gill full parole, saying he continues to minimize his actions: “Indeed in his application for parole, he referred to his sexual assault as, ‘non-violent.'”

‘Breach of the social contract’

Gill was ordered deported in November 2017.

In his affidavit, Gill says his wife won’t be able to pay their mortgage without him and his children may have to leave the private school that costs the family $4,000 a year.

“I am afraid to return to India,” Gill wrote.

“More than that, I have so much fear about leaving my wife and children alone and without support in Canada.”

Gill also claimed his parents had been shunned in India by other family members as a result of his actions. And he feared worse.

“My conviction is known in India,” he wrote.

“I am afraid that my conviction may be used against me.”

But Martineau said he saw no reason to intervene in the deportation process, saying it was Gill’s actions that led to his criminal inadmissibility to Canada.

“This breach of the social contract can lead not only to consequences imposed by the criminal court,” the judge wrote.

“But also to [Gill’s] loss of his immigration status and related privileges.”


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4Jun

Coquitlam mayor renews call for ride hailing after report of bad taxi ride | CBC News

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Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is once again calling for an end to the taxi monopoly in the Tri-Cities area and urging the province to quickly allow ride hailing services like Lyft and Uber after a local woman recounted a negative cab ride that left her feeling like a captive.

The taxi ride happened more than a week ago, but it wasn’t until Stewart wrote a post on social media titled “Held hostage by a taxi” that it started to get attention.

Gayle Hunter was taking a routine taxi ride from her home to Birchland Elementary School, where she works. Hunter, who doesn’t drive and lives with a disability that limits her mobility, said she always pays $7 for the trip, after the tip.

But, in her account, the driver failed to start the meter, and as she approached the school, she told the driver that technically, if he didn’t start the meter, she didn’t need to pay.

Hunter claims she was fully intending to pay the usual rate, but her comment sent the driver into a shouting rage.

Then, she said he turned away from her destination, despite her protest, and began to drive her in the wrong direction.

“It was essentially an altercation that resulted in her being driven against her will for some period of time, and it really angered me,” said Stewart.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said a local woman’s account of a bad taxi ride was just the latest in a long list of complaints he’s heard from people about the area’s taxis. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

“It frustrates me to no end, the length of time and the number of times we’ve had to speak with the Transportation Ministry, the Passenger Transportation Board and with this company about the behaviour of the drivers,” he said.

‘It was scary’

“Well it was, first of all, shocking, and then it was scary,” said Hunter. “It was scary. It was — and then it just made me really angry.”

Hunter said she phoned the company, Bel-Air Taxi, as the driver continued to refuse to take her to the school. She said she put the manager on speaker phone to have him tell the driver to take her to her intended destination — she says the driver continued shouting throughout.

Once Hunter got to Birchland elementary, she claims the troubling episode still didn’t end. She said the driver hurt her by aggressively ripping the cash out of her hand.

“When I got into the school, I was shaking, like I was a little — I went straight to the principal’s office,” she said. “Even today, I don’t feel safe getting into a cab.”

Gayle Hunter says she’s scared to take taxis after a bad ride in late May. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Hunter contacted Coquitlam RCMP to file a report, but doesn’t expect any criminal charges to arise from the incident. She also sent the company a written complaint, but said that she hasn’t heard anything back.

CBC News phoned and emailed Bel-Air Taxi for a comment, but nobody from the company replied to the request.

Manager Shawn Bowden told CTV News that he spoke to Hunter and apologized for the incident. He said the meter should have been turned on, but he added that, based on GPS records, the taxi didn’t deviate from the intended route to the school.

For both Stewart and Hunter, the incident is a reminder that, as a matter of safety and convenience, passengers need more choice when it comes to ride services in the Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.


Do you have more to add to this story? Email [email protected]

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker




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