There’s a company called Langley-Aldergrove Taxi that throughout the year services Aldergrove, a neighbourhood on the eastern edge of Langley Township.
But because of COVID-19, people in the community are finding cab rides hard to find.
That’s because the pandemic has shuttered retail businesses and decimated typical reasons for taxi cab calls, such as one-way trips to catch a flight at the airport, or a safe ride home from a local pub or restaurant.
Langley-Aldergrove Taxi drivers has been off limits to people in Aldergrove. For the rest of Langley, there’s only four drivers with the company working to cover trips, according to a driver who wishes to remain anonymous.
He told The Star the company is planning to add five more drivers to its operating roster come June 1.
“It’s really dependent upon businesses reopening” and people having places to go, the cabbie explained.
Fortunately, Pacific Cabs – a larger cab company that services the region, including Surrey, White Rock, Cloverdale, and Langley – is able to pick-up Aldergrove residents in need of a ride.
At any given point, around 10 Pacific Cabs can be found working in Langley, according to acting manager Cheri Gilmore.
But that number has “dropped significantly,” from 92 taxis on shift throughout its sprawling area of coverage, to just 32 on an average day, she said.
Cabbies have been given the option to continue working, or to stay home amid the pandemic. And many have chosen the latter, she said. Those drivers currently remain out of work.
Wait times climb for passengers
Another unintended result of cab drivers staying home and fewer taxis on Langley roads – longer wait times for those in need of a ride.
“It all depends on the day,” Gilmore explained.
“We’re doing the best we can. Some days there’s a considerable amount of cars to one rider. Other days, it’s a struggle.”
Ride-hailing swipes business from cab companies
Langley cab drivers – many currently out of work – are still coming back from taking a hit when ride-hailing services were introduced just a few months ago in Langley (March 2), servicing up to 40th Avenue and 232nd Street.
With competitive pricing and the ability to track a driver’s arrival time with ride hailing, many passengers have been opting out of traditional taxi use.
In response to COVID-19, both Lyft and Uber – competitors in the emerging Metro Vancouver ride-hailing market – have suspended shared rides; where two strangers share one car and the cost of travelling to their varying destinations.
As of Monday, a new real-time ID technology is requiring Uber drivers to verify that they are wearing a mask – by uploading a selfie – before being let on the application to work.
“We will maintain this policy through the end of June, and then reassess based on local public health needs,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on May 13.
Lyft has made no such advancement but sent free hand sanitizer and masks to drivers upon their request.
Aldergrove residents, with no ride-hailing services, remain dependent solely upon taxi services.
Langley-Aldergrove Taxi did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.