The Revelstoke Accommodation Association has submitted a letter to city council complaining about the taxi services available in the city.
“On behalf of the more than 40 accommodation providers operating in Revelstoke, we write to bring your attention to our long-term dissatisfaction with the performance of the taxi company operating in Revelstoke,” the letter, signed by chairperson of the association, Peter Nielsen, says.
The letter goes on to outline past and current issues identified by the tourism stakeholders, unreliability of service, interior and exterior cleanliness, not taking government tokens as payment, inappropriate or rude drivers and negative interactions with dispatchers.
“Dispatch often sends an undersized vehicle for groups requesting larger vehicles- effectively separating the groups and creating an agonizing process for tourists where a dinner group is separated or a very long multiple return trip the Revelstoke Mountain Resort area where they are staying,” the letter continues. “They are very angry by the end of the evening, erasing all the goodwill and positive feelings about Revelstoke that our restaurants work so hard to build.”
The association also has concerns around the safety/appearance of the taxis, claiming the vehicles are often in disrepair and there have been reports of unsafe driving.
They proposed that city council review previous complaints and offences under the Passenger Transportation Regulation standards, inspect and audit the taxi licensee and release and additional taxi license through a “call for new applicants.”
However, at the council meeting on June 26 where the letter was accepted and referred to city staff for follow up, Alan Chabot, CAO, said these requests are out of the city’s purview.
According to Chabot anyone can apply for a taxi license through the Passenger Transportation Board. They will decide based on a number of considerations including whether or not the business would be economically viable, whether the applicant is of good character as well as other stipulations.
He added that though the application would be referred to city staff for review, council’s only role in the process would be to indicate whether or not they support the application.
“I don’t like the idea of us debating around the table the quality of the service a business provides or doesn’t provide because it is opening up a whole new dimension to being on council that concerns me,” said Mayor Mark Mckee. “And that is the whole idea behind the private, free enterprise market.”
Lorraine Switzer, manager of the taxi companies in Revelstoke said that they were and still have not been (as of June 27) approached by the Accommodation Association about these issues, claiming they would enjoy the opportunity to work with the association but have never met with anyone.
“We have been here for 45 years running taxis through good times and bad,” she said in an email. “I have no problem with the retraining of our drivers as a matter of fact I am looking forward to it.”
She went on to say that they are having trouble finding staff.
“All of our drivers work straight commission, so competing with the wages the city pays is impossible,” she said.
“All winter all the shuttles run like taxis, they all hand out cards with their numbers.”
Council requested that city staff tell the association that it is not council’s place to interfere with a private business and that they should pass their concerns on to the taxi company as well as the Passenger Transportation Board.