Long waits, denied rides: These are Vancouver’s taxi horror stories

Dec 5 2018, 12:56 am

Last month, Daily Hive put out a callout to our readers to share their experiences using taxis in Vancouver.

And boy oh boy, did you ever respond.

We received hundreds of responses from people living in the city who had experienced problems using taxis as a reliable mode of transportation to get around.

We heard stories about customers being put on hold for ages to reach a dispatcher to apps for taxi companies that just straight up didn’t work when they tried to use them. Others shared stories of long wait times, being asked to pay in cash, being kicked out before their final destination. And perhaps the worst of all: cabs that never arrived.

The tone that ran through the responses shared one common denominator: Frustration.  Frustration that the taxi system can be unreliable, and frustration that ridesharing still isn’t an option that British Columbians can use as an alternative.

Here are some of the responses to our callout for stories:


In Vancouver, near BC Place/Rogers Arena at least four cabs denied us service since we were going to Port Coquitlam.


I was already in the cab driving then two minutes into the ride the driver decides to tell me that he couldn’t take me to Burnaby because he had to take his car to the auto shop (at 10 pm) and had to let me out and someone else would take me. He then just left me at a gas station and said he would call for another cab.


I was a 19-year-old girl waiting at an intersection on Thurlow at 2-3 am on hold for over 20 minutes with a cab company that never answered. I was able to hail a cab down that wouldn’t let me enter the vehicle until I told him where I was going. Once I told him I was going to Burnaby he left.  


Hailed a cab to take us home to Burnaby from downtown. We get in the cab and tell the guy the location, he refuses to take us so we refuse to get out of the cab. We sit there for about 10 min until he eventually concedes and agrees to drive us.


It was well after midnight on a Saturday night, and after being passed up by multiple taxi drivers because the distance wasn’t far enough for them, I was prepared to walk home from Downtown Vancouver to Kitsilano. Finally, a taxi stopped, and after some pleading, the driver reluctantly let me on.


[Once] I booked two cabs (one with my phone and the other with my boyfriend’s phone after the first failed). Both said it had accepted my ride and was “in service” but they hadn’t picked me up at all. Instead, they picked up someone else and didn’t cancel the trip, forcing me to wait another 30 min both times to finish the route. I wish there was a way to cancel a trip when this happens through the app.


He wouldn’t drive us unless we prepaid cash. He said I don’t have money (according to him) and swore at us. calling us b**ches. Then he drove off and left us in the middle of Surrey at 2 am which is pretty unsafe for two girls.


Called a taxi to pick me up at car dealership and take me to my office. Cab arrives promptly, we head out then driver pulls to the curb and refuses to go any further when he learns I plan to pay with VISA. I call the cab company and I am on the phone with the dispatcher while he sits there, refusing to go any further. Dispatcher radios him to get going and take me to the office. He finally does so begrudgingly, then tells me to “___ off” after I leave him no tip.


Last year around Christmas for my work party I was trying to get a cab home. I was waiting for about 20 minutes which really wasn’t bad at all, but I finally waved down a taxi, who said I could only come in if I had cash. I was definitely intoxicated and thought I had cash so I agreed. He drove me from the Vancouver Convention Center to Kits, which was only about a 12-15 minute drive. I went to pay and realised I didn’t have enough cash so he drove me to an ATM and forced me to take out cash.


Got in a cab. Young driver. On TWO cellphones “just texting girls.” I told him to please stop. He refused, ran a 4-way stop.


Had a serious trip to St Paul’s emergency department a couple months ago. Once I was released at about 5 am, I had to take a taxi home. In a ten minute trip, the driver ran two red lights.


Was trying to make the responsible decision to cab home after a night of drinking. Halfway through the drive he said he wouldn’t accept card, so he made me get cash from the nearest bank. This is taking advantage of someone who’s been drinking and trying to make the right and safe decision.


One time, a taxi driver pulled over and asked to withdraw money so I can pay him cash in order to continue the trip. Many other times, taxi drivers refused to take me because I didn’t have cash or my destination was too far (DT to Burnaby).


I was hit by a cab while on my motorcycle. After surgery, I was given cab vouchers from ICBC to get to appointments. They used the same company that hit me. The first few rides were what I would describe as “dire” and I was even refused on more than one occasion or waited much longer than expected. Very hard when you have a shattered patella.


I had to walk eight blocks to the SkyTrain station with my crutches in the rain, exactly 1 hour after unsuccessfully trying to get a taxi to pick me up.


I took my car in for service on a weekday evening at a Canadian Tire. I called a cab company and was told it would be 20 mins. 30 mins later they still hadn’t arrived, I called back and they said oh someone is on the way. This proceeded for about an hour and half with multiple calls. Finally called another cab company and got one in 20 minutes. It was the middle of summer and 35 degrees out.


I just finished working a nine hour shift,  Saturday night, 2 am, numerous vacant taxis going along both ways of the street, flag one down, Yellow Cab, open the door, say “hello” driver responds with “oh I thought you were a woman, get out.”


[My husband and I] booked a cab to come to our home in Dunbar/Point Grey at 7 pm. The cab arrived at 6:55 pm, and my husband went out to greet the driver while I put on my coat and shoes. In the time it took me to slip on my pumps and grab my coat, the driver took off. My husband ran after him, but to no avail. We called the cab company, who said the driver was offered another fare, so he left. He had waited less than two minutes for me to come out of the house before he left.


I was taking a cab from YVR to West Vancouver, where I live. The ride probably cost close to $60. Like a used car salesman, the driver said that the card machine wasn’t working and asked if I could pay cash. I had just gotten off a 10-hour flight from Asia and had no Canadian currency on me. Furthermore, I rarely carry more than $40 on me, and I find it absurd to assume the average person carries that much cash. I was tired and annoyed. I told him to call dispatch because it was my right to pay card. All of a sudden, the machine magically starts working again.

If you’d like to share your taxi story, fill out our online form or email [email protected] to have your say. The answers will be used in future editorial content looking at the future of ridesharing in Metro Vancouver.

Darcy MathesonDarcy Matheson

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