It’s Friday night and Kuldip Gill is headed home after a couple of industry events in Vancouver.
He’s ducked out early, worried that he won’t be able to convince a cab to take him to his home in New Westminster.
At around 10:30 p.m., Gill finds a taxi and hops in.
“The cabbie started driving and then he asked me where I was going,” Gill told Black Press.
Upon hearing that Gill wanted to go to New Westminster, the driver asked him to get out of the car.
“So why don’t you want to take me home?,” Kuldip Gill asks in a video posted to YouTube.
“I’m not going that far,” the driver responds.
So begins an experience that Gill said he’s had time and time again.
The only thing that changed is that this time, he pulled out his phone and started filming.
“Nothing would have come about if I didn’t,” he said.
The video has been viewed more than 12,000 times and Gill’s Facebook post was shared close to 40 times.
Most of the reaction has been positive, Gill said.
“I got inundated by messages from my friends who were like ‘yeah, this happens all the time,’” he said.
Gill was able to get out of the taxi and get home safe but he worries that not everyone is as lucky.
Two of his friends told him they were also refused by taxis on Friday night.
“One is… in her early 20s and she lives in New Westminster as well and she was left in North Vancouver at 2 a.m.by a cab driver,” said Gill.
“She’s by herself at 2 a.m. in the morning in North Vancouver trying to figure out how to get home. That’s just a huge safety issue.”
But despite the attention his video has received, Gill feels hopeless.
“Five or six years ago, that bill was introduced that taxi drivers cannot legally refuse to drive you home if you’re outside of the Downtown core,” said Gill.
“Those rules are in play and [taxi drivers] choose not to adhere to them because there are really no repercussions. The industry has shown that it can’t police itself.”
Gill said that although Yellow Cabs said it has suspended the driver, that won’t change anything for the next person who needs a ride out to the suburbs.
He’s frustrated that despite calls for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, the new NDP government has yet to bring ride-sharing to B.C.
Ride-sharing was one of the NDP’s campaign promises ahead of the provincial election this spring.
According to their platform, “the BC NDP will ensure customers get timely, safe, quality service by harnessing the benefits of ride-sharing services to build on the existing taxi system.”
Since then, the BC Greens, who helped the NDP form government this summer, as well as the BC Conservatives have called on the province to bring in ride-sharing.
When elected, the NDP promised to bring in ride-sharing by the end of 2017. Since then, they’ve pushed the deadline back till the end of 2018.
This fall, transportation minister Claire Trevena hired a Ottawa consultant to study the impact of ride sharing on a city like Vancouver. The report is due back this spring.
The B.C. Taxi Bill of Rights states that “a driver may not refuse to transport a passenger based on trip length, unless a law or condition of licence would be violated.”
Taxis come with a number printed on them that passengers can call if they’re refused a ride.
“Trying calling that number at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night and see if you can get a hold of anybody,” said Gill.
“Nothing’s going to change. I’ve done my bit and posted that . Whatever I say or do going forward, nothing is going to change.”
Neither Yellow Cabs nor the transportation ministry have returned calls for comment.