Parksville Qualicum Beach has eight taxi cabs servicing more than 40,000 people spread over 500 square kilometres.
And Oceanside Taxi is the only gig in town.
Owner Joti Gill said his business amalgamated with their former competition, Alliance Taxi, eight months ago. Gill said he purchased Alliance’s four cab licences during the transition, doubling his company’s stock.
He said Oceanside Taxi services the area from Nanoose Bay to Qualicum Bay and westward to Whiskey Creek, 24 hours per day. As soon as you get in a cab, it’s $3.50, and you are then charged $2 a kilometre. Comparatively, Nanaimo’s Yellow Cab starts at $3.15 and users are charged $2.18 per kilometre. Gill said the average wait time for a cab is 15 to 20 minutes.
But Dan Brodeur, general manager of the Rod and Gun, the region’s only nightclub, said some nights customers wait up to 45 minutes for a cab.
“I’m not in the cab business whatsoever so I can’t understand what they are going through,” said Brodeur, noting Oceanside Taxi has a large area to cover. “But we’re a big source of income for them … they have eight cabs but who knows how many are on shift.”
Parksville’s Upper Deck Sports Bar manager Darrell St. Pierre said “in peak seasons there seems to be a shortage (of cabs).”
However, St. Pierre said wait-times typically aren’t a problem otherwise.
Gill said having eight taxi cabs is a number based on population and controlled by the transportation board of B.C. He admits “December is very busy” as well as most Friday and Saturday nights.
According to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit schedule website the last weekday bus leaves the Parksville Exchange at 10:01 p.m. and the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre at 10:29 p.m. On Saturdays the last bus leaves at 7:01 p.m. and 7:29 p.m., respectively.
However, RDN acting general manager of transportation and waste services Daniel Pearce said on New Years Eve transit will run a “modified free service” from 8.30 p.m. to 2.30 a.m.
“We encourage people to take transit rather than endangering their lives (by driving while intoxicated),” said Pearce, who noted the holiday season generally sees an increase in ridership.
Pearce reminds residents that B.C. Transit will operate regular service until 7.30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and there will be no service on Christmas Day or New Years Day.
On New Years Eve transit will run a “modified free service” from 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said “police will be out in full force this holiday season ensuring people find safe rides home and if they aren’t willing to do that, they can deal with it on the roadside.”