Council approves pilot project that will put vans on the street to get people home from local bars much faster.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON April 11, 2012  There will be a four month pilot taxi service in Burlington to see if there is a way to get the rowdies off the streets and safely home as they flood  out of the downtown bars and clubs at 2:00 am in the morning.

Burlington Taxi took the idea to a city council committee where it was approved and got final approval at a Council meeting but not without a bit of a dust up when Peter  Pellier,  speaking on behalf of GEM Taxi,  wanted to know why GEM wasn’t  invited to take part in the pilot project.  Good point.   Pellier told Council that Gem Taxi didn’t even know about the idea until they read something in the paper.

Pellier was upset at Gem Taxi not being advised; but he also thought the idea was bad for the taxi business and said getting people home when the bars close putting several hundred people on the street at the same time, was really a taxi problem that needed a taxi solution – which he claimed could be solved if more taxi licenses were issued in Burlington.

Pellier explained that Oakville, which is not unlike Burlington in its taxi needs,  has 107 cabs  and six wheel chair accessible vehicles licensed, while Burlington has just 58.  More taxi’s – better service – explained Pellier.

Vans like these will be on the streets of Burlington on weekends to help get patrons of downtown bars and clubs home faster.

That wasn’t quite the way Scott Wallace, owner of Burlington Taxi, and the man who came up with the idea for the pilot project saw things.  As he explained to Council,  Burlington has corporate taxi companies and it is those corporations that own the licenses.  “Those taxi drivers are our employees and we can ensure that there are enough cabs out on the streets to meet the need.”

In Oakville the licenses are held  by individuals  and as Wallace explained “there is no guarantee that the taxis are going to be on the road.  Many drivers”  Wallace explained, “earn what they feel they need and then book off.”  So while Oakville has more licenses – that doesn’t translate into enough taxi’s available for service.

While Gem should have been invited to take part in the pilot project, the reality is that they probably could not have participated because they don’t have any 15 passenger vans.

One of the prime spots for downtown bar patrons to gather after the 2 am closing is the Charcoal Pit - makes for a lot of noise. Multi passenger vans will be used in a pilot to see if people can get transported out of the downtown core faster.

Every vehicle on the road that is carrying passengers for a fee must be licensed by the city.  Another of the rules in Burlington is that the driver cannot pick up people going to different destinations and are not part of a single party.

With the pilot project approved, Burlington Bylaw Enforcement Officer Tracey Burrows, can now overlook  a van picking up multiple passengers and charging each one the flat rate of $7. which will not actually have a license.  Burrows will be overseeing the pilot project and be part of the team that does the analysis and decides if this is something the city will want to do on a regular basis and make licenses available for that type of service.  Gem Taxi would presumably be able to apply for such a license.

The pilot project is expected to start in May.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.