Voters for Taxis -
giving a voice to the taxi customer
Elevate the discussion. Broaden the options.


Calgary's Taxi System
Read about Calgary's taxi service in the latest local media coverage!

Ever wonder if our taxi service challenges are unique to Calgary?
Read on...

"7. Taxi, please. That all citizens get a taxi when they want it, where they want it. Heck, I'd be happy if cab companies simply hired enough dispatchers to answer their phones to take customers' orders. I've never understood how a so-called shortage of taxi licences or vehicles on the streets explained the constant busy signals one encounters when calling for a cab."
“I have a file called "Who has Pictures of Whom Naked?" This is where I put stories that just don't make sense, such as why we have such lousy taxi service in the city, despite everyone but the taxi commission screaming it from every freezing street corner.”
 CTV Poll

  • 2011 December 10 Voters for Taxis added its comments to our Facebook page; also see below
  • 2011 December 07, QR77 interviewed Sandy Jenkins regarding the impact of Bill 26 on Calgary's taxi supply 

 Voters for Taxis recent comments on our Facebook page

[RE: “Legislation worsens cab crunch, drivers say” and “No easy fix for peak-hour cab problem”, Calgary Metro 2012 December 08]

Once again, as if on cue, the “one per” bromide.
The bromide some in the taxi industry trot out every year at this time when allegations arise over lack of taxi service. The one that touts a “typical” number of “one taxi per so many citizens” and that Calgary’s lower “one per” number is indicative of the fact that, despite the seasonal bump in demand, we have too many taxis here already.

As if that bromide was true. Or more importantly, relevant. Two points come to mind.

The City wrote the report that claimed a “norm” and Calgary’s relationship to it. Despite the faulty math (the “industry norm” was, at that time, actually “1 taxi/750 citizens”, not “1/900” as claimed), Calgary’s ratio, then at 1/457, was in fact higher, some 65% higher in relation to that corrected “norm”.   And the highest of 11 cities.

With those numbers written in the 1986 report, fast forward to today and where does Calgary stand?

Given the lack of transparency in the industry (see FCPP Report “Who Owns Taxi Licences? Exclusive Taxi Licences and Transparency”, September 2009), realistically comparing the cities comprising that “norm” back then to today is virtually impossible. But using City-contracted consultant data recently reported to Council, this data emerges:

  • So many “taxis per 10, 000” is the more accepted way of making comparisons;
  • Calgary’s number today is “13.2 taxis per 10, 000 citizens”;
  • For what it’s worth, back in 1986, admittedly using a different set of comparison cities, Calgary’s number was 19.3, and the average of 11 cities was 13.2;
  • Now, the average of 12 cities in this recent  study is 11.7.

The obvious conclusion? Once upon a time, Calgary was beyond the norm. Now it’s inside the group. Yes, there are those who service demand with a lesser ratio. More importantly, there are others who now surpass Calgary’s.

But it’s the point about relevancy that needs more attention.

“One per” and “so many per 10000” are useful indicators merely to the policy wonks out there comparing municipalities’ public policy approaches. As indicators, they do nothing to reflect the customer-centric reality out there – that service is lacking. Seasonally, geographically, time of day, day(s) of week, destination and route, proximity to and service at the airport, true availability and real response, the list of complaints goes on… and is repeated year after year. So too the list of dubious solutions, including facile ones like “…cabbies only wanting to work 9 to 5 like everyone else.”

Interestingly enough, the “one per” argument is the only performance measure (sort of) we as customers in Calgary have to rely on (sort of). Any other “numbers” such as claims of “95% adequacy” are fiction and not verifiable under any objective standard.

And that’s where that debate isn’t. What objective standard? Heck, what verifiable data? 

Munir Sheikh, who resigned over the federal government's handling of the census data gathering issue, had this to say: "No country can be among the league of civilized societies without intelligent policy development. And, intelligent policy development is not possible without good data."

Care to participate in a debate about whether that statement applies to Calgary’s policy development on taxi service?  Or are we comforted in our service demands by the industry’s “one per” bromide?

Tom Mercik

Voters for Taxis

[Voters for Taxis wrote its Public Education Series #1 article titled  ”What’s the Right Number of Cabs? Debunking the Myths, Confronting the Realities.” in January 2010 in response to this very topic.]         


This website is devoted to advancing the interests of the taxi customers and citizens of Calgary, during the ongoing review of the Taxi and Limousine business by The City of Calgary Administration and Council , through Voters for Taxis, a non-profit volunteer-based organization.

Voters for Taxis is dedicated to taxi industry excellence and customer satisfaction, and works to ensure Calgary taxi customers have the information, representation and consultation they need during any taxi bylaw reviews by encouraging two things:

  • the enabling of a meaningful dialogue,
  • on a balanced information basis,

so that all options to increasing customer service and satisfaction are properly considered.

Voters for Taxis operates as "the voice of the consumer" by:

  • monitoring the state of taxi regulation and change;
  • providing information, skills and strategies to taxi customers;
  • analysing and assisting in taxi customer problems and complaints;
  • representing the taxi customer interest to the taxi industry and City Council;
  • developing and presenting specific solutions to issues that affect taxi customers in Calgary, and
  • uniting taxi customers to ensure effective participation in taxi bylaw reviews.

Voters for Taxis was started and is maintained by a group of interested citizens, with assistance  from specialists in  taxi regulations,  regulatory economics and public consultation, and additional background and history from a number of former Calgary Taxi Commission and Livery Appeal Board members and support from other taxi bylaw review consultants.

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