Prince Rupert’s taxi service providers are unfazed by the possibility of ride-hailing services coming to the city.
“If they come to Rupert, I don’t see it being feasible, but if they do we just have to deal with it,” said Bill Langhorn, manager at Skeena Taxi in Prince Rupert.
On Nov. 19. B.C., Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced regulation changes that will allow Uber and Lyft-style services to be available in the province. As a part of the changes, insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers will be available by the fall of 2019.
Ride-hailing drivers would also have to get a Class 4 licence to drive for hire, which would include a credit check.
Skeena Taxi is currently the primary taxi service available in Prince Rupert, employing at least 75 drivers on a full or part-time basis as well as six administrative staff.
Langhorn, who has worked for the company for more than 40 years, said if people want access to different services in Prince Rupert, they will get it. However, he said he was confident that Skeena Taxi would continue to satisfy its customer’s needs.
“We’ll do the best we can for as long as we can,” Langhorn said. “We’ve been there 24/7, our phone is always reliable when people call. That’s what we do well.”
One of the advantages apps like Uber or Lyft have over Skeena taxi is the ability to pay for rides by debit or credit as opposed to cash. Langhorn acknowledged that the ability to book a taxi via an application on one’s smartphone can be more convenient for customers as it would let them know how long they would have to wait for a taxi to arrive.
While those services do not currently exist in Prince Rupert, Langhorn said there have been discussions within the company about modernizing to allow debit and credit payments in Prince Rupert. However, since Skeena Taxi drivers are independent operators, they would each have to decide for themselves whether or not to implement the technology.
A booking app is also a possibility in the future, but Langhorn said the company will take its time to ensure it can be implemented in a way that will make economic sense for its drivers.
“We’re shopping for 45 customers because we want to see what’s the most cost effective for them,” he said.
Neither the Prince Rupert Economic Development Office nor the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce were available to provide comment for this story by deadline.