FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Super Cabs owner Mebin Veliyath was approved to operate two more cars after applying for five taxi licences in March.
In April, Veliyath took to Facebook seeking support to expand his one-person, one-taxi business, but another taxi company in the city objected to his application.
The unnamed third party’s reasons were that he was not fit to provide the service, the existing cab companies provide prompt service already, and there are more taxis than there is demand in Fort St. John.
CAO Milo Macdonald told council in July that the city has received several pieces of correspondence from the public indicating local “taxi services are often unavailable, or only available after an unacceptably long wait.”
“It has been reported that at peak times, such as the arrival of scheduled flights, or at bar closing, or following the conclusion of evening shifts after bus service is unavailable, these challenges are nearly insurmountable with no taxi service available at all,” wrote MacDonald.
Veliyath has more work to do before the new cars are up and running, including hiring more drivers.
“Ever since I started the application, I had people who are willing to work approaching me,” Veliyath said, “I’m going to contact them first to see if they’re still interested.”
Veliyath will also need to find office space and dispatchers since he will have more drivers. Previously, he was running his business out of his home.
“Even before getting the dispatchers, I’m thinking of making it a 24-hour service with one car at least,” Veliyath said.
After an office is secured, he will need to purchase the vehicles and have those approved by the Passenger Transportation Board as well.
He said the response from the community has been very positive.
“Everybody’s happy. I did get a lot of messages on my work phone. They’re all looking forward to it,” Veliyath said.
“This application is approved only because of this public support. I’m thankful.”
He said the company’s priority is providing reliable service to the community in a timely manner.
In July, council voted in favour of setting up a meeting with the BC Passenger Transportation Board to discuss all ridesharing options available to the city, as well as concerns surrounding local taxi services.
Councillors also encouraged residents interested in obtaining an Uber licence to reach out to the board as well as Uber to show their interest in the ridesharing service coming to Fort St. John.