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Transportation, Urbanized, News

Catching a taxi could be even more difficult with Vancouver's record cruise ship season

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Kenneth Chan May 04, 2019 9:30 am

Vancouver’s taxi shortage situation could be further exacerbated by the Port of Vancouver’s all-time record-breaking cruise ship passenger numbers for 2019.

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Anecdotally, catching a cab in the city becomes far more difficult when cruise ships begin to pull into the Canada Place cruise ship terminal to allow thousands of passengers to disembark and embark.

With the expectation that Canada Place in 2019 will see 290 ship visits bringing nearly 1.1 million passengers, which is 21% more than 2018’s recorded volumes, it is possible more locals and tourists could be inconvenienced even further by a corresponding higher demand for taxis, as well as the region’s shortage of taxis and its complete lack of rideshare options.

Vancouver’s cruise ship season officially began in late-March, and there have only been a handful of scheduled sailings over the last few weeks.

But the cruise season ramps up to its peak mode starting today, with three large cruise ships berthing at Canada Place, including the return of the Norwegian Bliss — one of the world’s largest cruise ships.

Multiple cruise ships are scheduled at Canada Place nearly everyday from now until the end of September.

Norwegian Bliss Canada Place cruise season ship

The Norwegian Bliss arriving in Vancouver during the early morning hours of September 30, 2018. (Maurice Lavoie / Flickr)

This year, the Port hopes to mitigate some of the taxi congestion and lineups by expanding its staging area inside Canada Place and utilizing Waterfront Road to create more capacity, in addition to the existing staging on Howe Street.

Although taxi operations at the cruise ship terminal may improve this year, the taxi shortage problems still persist. Based on the latest publicly available statistics, there are just under 2,100 taxi vehicles on the road in Metro Vancouver, but because of municipal boundaries only roughly 900 of these vehicles — operated by cab companies licensed with the City of Vancouver — can pick up passengers within Vancouver.

“Each year, we work closely with our transportation providers including the Vancouver Taxi Association and the City of Vancouver to put together a forecast model to predict the number of daily cruise passengers we expect,” Danielle Jang, a spokesperson with the Port of Vancouver, told Daily Hive.

The Port also hopes to direct some of the cruise ship passengers away from taxis and onto public transit and direct airport shuttle buses. All cruise vehicles in the Canada Place parkade will also be asked to leave the cruise ship terminal through the P2 exit onto Waterfront Road.

“On busy days, such as this coming weekend, our staff are on site to provide cruise passengers with information about other ground transportation options,” said Jang. “Transfers to downtown and the airport are sold on site and we also encourage all cruise lines to sell transfers on board.”

The Port has produced a list of the peak high volume passenger days at Canada Place in 2019, when three or more major cruise ships are expected:

  • May 4, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Norwegian Bliss, Oosterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 9,613
  • May 10, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Celebrity Solstice, Ruby Princess, Celebrity Millennium)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 15,936
  • May 12, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Star Princess, Westerdam, Noordam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 12,728
  • May 26, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 4 (Celebrity Eclipse, Seven Seas Mariner, Noordam, Viking Orion)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 12,656
  • June 30, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Celebrity Eclipse, Queen Elizabeth, Westerdam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 13,716
  • July 1, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Norwegian Jewel, Sun Princess, Disney Wonder)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 13,608
  • September 1, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Golden Princess, Ruby Princess, Nieuw Amsterdam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 15,648
  • September 22, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 3 (Celebrity Eclipse, Westerdam, Noordam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 13,228
  • September 29, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 4 (Eurodam, L’Austral, Westerdam, Noordam)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 10,416
  • September 30, 2019
    • Number of ships at Canada Place: 4 (Norwegian Jewel, Oosterdam, Disney Wonder, Norwegian Bliss)
    • Estimated number of passengers on this day: 15,270
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