Vancouver Has Fewer Taxis Than Any Other Canadian City

Transportation | BCBusiness

A Conference Board of Canada report finds that with one taxi for every 4,000 residents, Vancouver has the lowest number of taxis per capita of any major Canadian city

Vancouver may not have the highest taxi fares in Canada, but that’s little comfort to city residents trying in vain to hail a cab downtown on a Friday night.

In a recent report, the Conference Board of Canada found that Vancouver has the lowest number of taxis per capita of any major Canadian city, with just .24 taxis per 1,000 residents. That compares to 1.3 taxis per thousand people in Montreal, 1.2 in Toronto and 1.4 in Calgary.

The report studied the effects of supply management in transportation, and found that the severe limitation on the number of licenses issued to operate taxis in the Lower Mainland has resulted in sky-high prices paid for taxi licenses in the after market, where taxi owners command premium prices for those scarce licenses.

Taxi licenses have sold for as much as $500,000 in Vancouver, according to a report cited in the Conference Board study. The next highest prices noted were $280,000 in Winnipeg and $220,000 in Montreal. The highest recorded price for a taxi license in Toronto is $114,000.

A survey of taxi fares across the country indicates that while Vancouver taxi licences are the most expensive in the country, that isn’t reflected in passenger fares. Based on current fares set by municipal and provincial regulators, Toronto has the most expensive cabs in the country: a three kilometre trip, including a total of three minutes of waiting time, costs $11.06 in that city. The same trip costs $10.44 in Montreal and $10.37 in Vancouver. That compares to $9.71 in Calgary and $8.99 in Winnipeg.

The Conference Board report notes that while there has been a lively public debate over government supply-side management in agriculture, there has been little discussion of similar controls in transportation. According to the report, “The taxicab industry in Canada… is subject to heavy market regulation,” and the primary means of control is through limiting the number of licenses, or permits.
Cost of a three kilometre taxi ride, including three minutes waiting time:
Toronto: $11.06
Montreal: $10.44
Vancouver: $10.37
Calgary: $9.71
Winnipeg: $8.99
SOURCES: Calculated based on current fees published by The Checker Group (Calgary); Passenger Transportation Board, Government of B.C. (Vancouver); Government of Manitoba (Winnipeg); Bureau du Taxi et du Remorquage (Montreal); City of Toronto