Terrace-based Kalum Kabs’ is determined not to suffer the same fate that Haisla Taxi did earlier this year – being forced to shut down due to a shortage of drivers.
On Monday, July 22, Kalum Kabs started operating three taxis in Kitimat, with more planned as driver recruitment, a training program and an attractive wage package increases the number of drivers the company employes.
Kalum Kabs director Bryan Halbauer believes it is the wage package, which includes health and pension benefits, which will prevent the exodus of drivers to the industrial projects.
“We didn’t have plans to expand to Kitimat but we believe we have the potential to meet the demand for taxi services in Kitimat,” said Halbauer on Monday.
“We’re looking for people that want to make driving taxis a career goal. We also want to create a working environment which will work for them in the long term.”
He said competitive wages and a benefits package has swayed drivers in Terrace, who have chosen to remain with the company and not chase after the lucrative jobs associated with the industrial boom in the region.
Halbauer believes the company had identified and addressed the challenges that make Kitimat a tough market to service.
One of those is that there are people who are interested in operating a taxi but who lack training.
In addition to recruitment, Halbauer and his business partner Michael Diana also offer drivers the necessary training to drive taxis.
Another problem for people reliant on taxi services in Kitimat has been wait times – Halbauer and Diana believe their electronic booking system and mobile phone app will solve a lot of the scheduling problems.
The wait times are further exacerbated by calls to service Northwest Regional Airport, which take drivers away from Kitimat for extended periods.
“We have enough drivers in Terrace to take care of the airport run – it will be less of a burden for our Kitimat drivers. Locals won’t have a problem waiting for a taxi,” added Diana.
The partners said while Kalum Kabs will operate seven days a week, the number of available drivers will ultimately dictate availability.
“We will have moments when we don’t have drivers, especially early in the morning and late on weekends,” said Diana.
Reaction to the news on social media has been mixed – while some people have expressed relief over the news of a new taxi company starting, others have said they will continue supporting the ride-sharing movement that started up in the vacuum left by Haisla Taxi’s service shutdown.