I am writing in response to the article “Cab crackdown” in this week’s Pique Newsmagazine. First of all the current situation regarding the state of operations within the Whistler taxi industry is by no means new but has been ongoing for far too long!
I am commenting as someone that fully knows and understands the expectations of Whistler residents, regional and destination visitors and I am speaking specifically with regards to my past employment while working for Whistler Dispatch Services, which held a majority number of licenses from the three operating taxis companies under its loose management umbrella.
During the period of my employment, October 2010 to March 2012, there was only one industry vehicle inspection conducted while I was driving with no follow up by vehicle inspectors. This ultimately lead to a further deterioration of vehicles, a refusal to drive as is, and the end of employment for both myself and another 20-year taxi driver. That driver is still today in the legal process of recovering lost income through WorkSafe BC.
The current operations under Whistler Dispatch Services Ltd. have company employee drivers, Independent Owner Operators and those who drive for Independent Owner Operators under three different names: Whistler Taxi, Sea To Sky Taxi and Blackcomb Taxi.
Upon no action being taken by my informed dispatch to refuse dispatching or place vehicles out of service, I contacted both owners via phone messages and emails requesting substantial fleet repairs be made immediately. One mechanic shop is a stone throw from the dispatch office, two others within Function Junction and a fourth at Mons Crossing. Revenue income during the winter season of 2012 for the company was excellent and the demands upon the vehicles extraordinary. There was absolutely no excuse to not maintain the vehicles as expected by customers and as requested often by many company drivers.
The ownership and operating structure of the company do not serve the interest of the community or those that own or operate within the loose organization. The internal situation was toxic! It begs the question why someone from within the community that has the means and the community interest truly at heart has not stepped forward to buy out everyone operating a taxis in Whistler and to do it all right!
The RMOW and Mayors office has received information from me specifically regarding a strategic plan for a much improved integrated local transportation system for both taxi and bus services. I unfortunately do not have those financial resources, but had Whistler, my customer and passenger interests first and foremost in mind.
Alternatively, Whistler should consider one taxi company with one identity and various products and services that meet the needs of residents and visitors providing across the board quality controls.
I would suggest that the current RMOW Mayor and Council give further consideration to those options or pass them along to someone locally that has the means and the genuine interest of operating a company with both employees and customer interests at heart.
The driving demands of Whistler and the Sea To Sky Hwy #99 are extreme at times and the need for vehicle operating excellence always present and the highest during the winter months. Please act in a manner that best serves your community and visitors.
Brian Wolfgang Becker
(From Nov. 5 Council Package)