Safety inspectors have cracked down on Whistler's cab companies, taking 15 taxis out of service after surprise inspections.
That amounts to roughly 25 per cent of the 58 operating taxis in Whistler.
"In this case, the number of out-of-service vehicles is higher than we would typically find in the Lower Mainland," emailed a spokesperson with the Ministry of Transportation. "CVSE (Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement) inspectors are working with the taxi industry to improve compliance."
Of the 23 cabs inspected, all were cited in some way when the CVSE inspectors arrived in Whistler September 18 and 19.
In addition to the 15 taken out of service, a further eight taxis were cited for violations and required minor repairs.
"The inspections specifically targeted vehicles with potential problems and are not an indication of the whole taxi industry," explained the ministry spokesperson, adding that vehicles from all taxi companies in Whistler were inspected.
There are two cab companies in town — Resort Cabs and Whistler Dispatch Services, which runs Sea to Sky Taxi, Blackcomb Taxi and Whistler Taxi. The owner of Whistler Dispatch Services, who said he bought the company in July, could not be reached for an interview by deadline.
There are also independent owner/operators who operate under the banners of those companies.
Garri Parhar, manager of Resort Cabs, based out of Creekside, explained his results from the spot inspection.
"We had nine of ours inspected," said Parhar.
One cab was taken out of service. Four were cited for violations.
"It was actually off the road anyway," said Parhar, of the car that was taken out of service, adding that it was parked to the side at the company's Creekside operations.
According to the CVSE, the 15 out-of-service violations in Whistler included: steering defects, parking brakes not operating, worn tires and suspension issues.
The four Resort Cabs' cars with violations included low tires, the seatbelt sign not working, improper weight on the registration and a side marker lamp light out.
"Some required minor work that was basically done in an hour or two," said Parhar.
That ratio is "par for the course," he added, of the annual surprise inspections.
"Generally we find with the commercial vehicle inspection guys is that they try to find something wrong with each vehicle," said Parhar. "They spend probably 45 minutes with each vehicle."
"(It's) nothing that would cause safety concerns for individuals."
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said there have been no complaints about local cabs to her office directly, but she expressed her concern upon hearing that 15 cabs were taken out of service.
"There are obvious ramifications for the guest experience," said the mayor, not to mention the potential safety implications.
Having said that, council has no jurisdiction over cab companies.
"There's not a lot we can do at this end," added the mayor.
Councillor Jack Crompton, who started Resort Cabs in 2003 and sold it in 2008, called these types of inspections very "thorough."
"We want the regulators to be very thorough, and so they are," said Crompton.
"The cars should be held to a higher standard than ours are, so the regulators are being extremely aggressive in the way they police this stuff. And they have to (be)."
The surprise inspections keep companies on their toes, which ultimately is good for people getting into cabs.
Crompton expects to see some positive fallout from this.
"I would be shocked in the next six months if the taxi companies don't have a renewed dedication to safety," he said.
"It's a reminder to the transportation industry to make sure that safety is number one, to not just say it, but to do it."
CVSE inspectors will be following up in the coming weeks to ensure vehicle repairs have been completed.
Inspectors also conducted roadside inspections in Whistler in 2012 and 2011.
A trade-qualified mechanic also inspects taxis at a designated inspection facility every six months. The inspection covers the drive train, brakes, tires, the exhaust system, the interior, lights and the steering system.
Said the ministry spokesperson: "Taxis accumulate an inordinate amount of kilometres and require a higher level of preventative maintenance when compared to other passenger vehicles.
"Commercial Vehicle and Safety Enforcement routinely undertake roadside inspections to get a snapshot of how the company maintenance plans are working."
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