There’s a new phone number for taxi services in the Comox Valley with the start of competition for customers.
For many years, there has been only one taxi operator in the Valley, but recently that changed following an earlier BC Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) ruling that “healthy competition” would benefit customers.
The PTB has granted a licence to local private-hire shuttle operator Ambassador Transportation Corporation to expand beyond its existing pre-booked services.
Ambassador is now able to pick up people who hail or flag from the street, respond to immediate calls for service, and charge metered rates for journeys, while still offering pre-arranged journeys, tours and limo services at posted rates.
Business owner Kevin East has put extra vehicles on the road that are freshly painted in his new black-and-yellow taxi livery and which promote the new phone number: 250-941-TAXI (8294).
“Our two licensed taxis are actually seven-seat vans, one of them fully accessible for wheelchair users and scooters thanks to flip seats and a tail lift,” says East. “Whether it’s a taxi for one person or seven, we’re ready to respond — and with 14 licensed drivers we can offer round-the-clock service seven days a week.”
The two super-cabs are both metered using rates fixed by the PTB.
“Obviously traffic conditions impact the time taken for any journey, which is recorded by the meter,” says East. “But typically a Courtenay-Comox Valley Airport run is costing about $25.”
With Ambassadors unique ‘hybrid’ licence they are able to utilize shuttle vehicles and offer cheaper flat rates than a typical taxi rate for further points such as Port Alberni, Campbell River or Parksville. This, ultimately, provides guests with the best possible price option for wherever their journey takes them.
When the PCB granted the licence, it noted strong support from the Valley to open taxi services to competition, with 58 submissions from businesses and individuals backing Ambassador’s bid. There was especially strong support from airlines and airport-related businesses, as well as local care homes.
Part of the PCB’s ruling stated that: “Many felt that another taxi provider would have a positive impact, with improved customer service, vehicle conditions and reduced wait times.”
Ambassador has been approved for two taxi licences, but East suggests that if the public supports his business he’ll be eager to return to the board to seek permission for more.
“We certainly aren’t the biggest operator, but we aim to be the best. Our drivers are professional, reliable, well dressed in Ambassador uniforms with name tags, and our vehicles provide comfort and style.”
In addition to the two taxi vans, Ambassador continues to run seven other vehicles — from cars to stretch limousines and even buses — for the private-hire side of the business. The 11 passenger Sprinter and 24 passenger bus have been especially useful for group outings. The enquiry number for the private hire side of business remains 250-339-5252.
“It’s great that people can now hail our taxi cabs, but we also remain committed to offering pre-booked airport drop-offs and pickups, safe rides home, tours of local wineries and attractions, and journeys needed for medical appointments by advance reservation for those who can plan ahead,” says East. “But we now have way more flexibility, and through co-operation with services such as BC Transit’s HandyDart services, we can also accept Taxi Saver vouchers towards the fare.”