When a distraught elderly man limped onto the bus from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, Tania Phiefer was immediately concerned.

“He had a cane and he was limping. He sat down in the handicap section in front of me, and he was just shaking and very upset,” said Phiefer.

“He pointed to the cabs, saying those guys won’t give me a ride.”

The man told Phiefer a driver in the lineup of cabs had refused him a ride into Sidney, roughly an eight-minute drive away, because “it wasn’t a big enough fare.”

“To refuse somebody service when they’re so obviously in need and in distress is shameful,” said Phiefer.

“I do say shame on you, it’s human decency to help someone in need.”

Tania posted about the alleged experience online and has since received almost fifteen hundred shares, with many islanders sharing similar personal experiences.

“Upon coming to Swartz Bay on the last ferry they refused her a ride in the cab because she was only going to Sydney and they want trips to town,” said Mike who was waiting to pick someone up from the ferry today.

“If you decide to be in the service industry, taxi drivers included, you take the good with the bad, short with the long. Not every fair can be two hours. No, it’s not very fair,” said Sharon Robinson.

It’s not only unfair, but it’s also illegal.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a small fare or big fare, we are there to serve the general public, without discrimination,” said B.C. Taxi Association president Mohan Kang.

“It would be totally unacceptable for any drive to refuse any trip.”

It has consumers once again calling for more diverse ridesharing options.

“They won’t let Uber in and I don’t see why not!” said Jodi Butchart.

“It’s all based on your rating. As a customer, I could be able to give feedback and say whether my driver refused me or not and that would potentially make that driver not get other fares.”

According to Tania, a B.C. Ferries personnel reached out to say they’d be looking into the incident.

Yellow Cabs, who hold the exclusive contract with B.C. Ferries to line up at arrivals, however, refused to comment today.

If people do have similar complaints the B.C Taxi Association suggests customers report to Consumer Protection BC which has an online form that can be used to lodge complaints. Customers can also do it by phoning the agency at 1-888-564-9963. They will review the complaint, respond, and refer the case to the appropriate body to address it.

Alternately, you can directly email the Passenger Transportation Branch at [email protected]

Kori Sidaway