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Calgary taxi drivers frustrated by longer licensing waits, says Coun. Dhaliwal

City said it's not the reorg that's to blame, but demand for vehicle for hire services. Average wait time still short, they said.

Ward 5 Coun. Raj Dhaliwal is concerned that drivers in Calgary’s taxi industry are dealing with long regulatory waits due to the city’s admin reorganization.

Coun. Dhaliwal raised the issue during Question Period at the final Calgary city council meeting for 2022. He said many drivers and brokerages have called him to express their concerns over the state of livery transport services.

“Their concerns are becoming issues,” Dhaliwal said.

“They’re having issues with the service sometimes when they’re calling in to get basic information. They are being asked to come to the office, because the staff doesn’t have time to talk on the phone. When they come to office, sometimes they’re sitting there for multiple hours.”

Dhaliwal asked if there was a plan to re-engage the city’s taxi industry post reorganization.

LWC reached out to Checker Cabs and United Cabs for comment on this matter.

Checker Cabs CEO Kurt Enders, via company statement, said he’s met with city officials on “challenges within our industry.”

Checker said there are a lot of moving parts in this and weren’t able to comment any further.

Coun. Dhaliwal said it was important to provide efficient services so taxi drivers can spend more time on the road making money and less time in an office.

Post-pandemic demand

Community Services GM Katie Black said that the service model for handling livery transport service inquiries hasn’t changed with the admin reorganization.

She said one of the big challenges is the spike in demand for vehicle-for-hire services. While there was less demand during the pandemic, they’re reached levels that are back to pre-pandemic volumes.

“It’s terrific news in terms of what it means for the economy and for the industry,” Black said.

“But it does mean that we’ve seen an increase of 50 per cent in our in-person customer interactions, and almost 80 per cent in electronic application processing.”

Black said they’re serving 85 per cent of customers within 15 minutes and the average wait time is eight minutes.

“I wanted to let you know that we are actively hiring because our staffing had been allowed to erode somewhat when the demand for services was less,” she said.

They’re also trying to leverage technology solutions to improve access to virtual licensing platforms.  She said they’re trying to improve service to the livery industry.

“The bad news is that…we’re experiencing the increase in demand coming out of this pandemic,” Black said.

“The good news is we’re experiencing an increase in demand coming out of the pandemic.”