Whitehorse is taking steps to make cab rides safer.
It is beyond time.
For years, Whitehorse cabbies have been able to multitask, lining up new fares while ferrying existing ones to their destinations.
While this is an inexpensive way to run a cab business, it doesn’t make for a good one.
Forget, for a minute, the obvious driver distraction. Instead, look at the bigger picture.
When it comes to a self-dispatched taxi, who knows where it is, who it has picked up and where it is going?
This is a significant danger for both cabbies and fares.
If there is a centralized dispatch, that base knows when the cab has picked someone up, where it is going and its ETA.
This protects the driver and the passenger.
If that system is not in place, the safety of the service is seriously degraded.
And this is how it has been in Whitehorse for years.
Imagine, a young woman arriving from Vancouver for the first time. She’s picked up at the airport by a self-dispatching cabbie.
Nobody knows she’s been picked up, when, or where she’s been taken.
Same for the cabbie. If they pick up a dangerous fare, or are involved in a rollover on the Fish Lake Road, a dispatcher will know they are on a trip and when they are expected to call in again.
Today, there’s nobody watching their back.
With a dispatcher, at least someone knows there’s a cab out there, when it picked up its last fare and that they’ve been MIA for awhile.
Similarly, making it law that cabs have to be serviced and maintained to a certain standard also makes sense.
There are complaints the standards are a little vague, and the city should work to make the standard clearer. But that’s a relatively easy fix.
Staffing and outfitting dispatch centres will cost cab companies some coin, as will maintaining their cars to a certain standard.
But it will make the system safer for all.