In a quaint town in Metro Vancouver, the unthinkable happened. According to a lengthy Facebook post, the Coquitlam mayor claims a woman was held hostage in a taxi in Metro Vancouver. The story is terrifying and the entire thing was recounted on social media.
Richard Stewart is the mayor of Coquitlam, British Columbia. He became quite well known amongst many, even those who aren’t from the city, after he publically putting a fellow resident on blast after they threw their Taco Bell garbage out their car window.
Stewart is now back calling out another individual, but this time it is a lot scarier. He posted about the encounter on Facebook and titled it "Held hostage by a taxi".
According to Stewart’s Facebook post, he received an email about a woman allegedly being "held against her will" by a taxi driver. The woman, Gayle, is well known to Stewart as she is a disabled woman who works in the school system.
Stewart claims that although Gayle's commute to school is short, she takes a taxi as it is easier for her unnamed health reasons. The day that the scary incident unfolded, she was using Bel-Air Taxi.
The mayor recounts that the trip is typically $5.50 and Gayle usually gives $7 plus tip. There have been instances in the past where people have tried to scam more money out of Gayle, to which she has contacted management and was told to pay whatever was on the meter.
On the morning of the commute, she noticed the driver did not activate the meter and because he didn’t, she told the driver that she didn’t technically need to pay. According to CBC, Gayle had full intentions of paying and even had the money in her hand, but that comment threw the driver into a rage.
The driver then changed directions and no longer headed towards the school. Gayle asked him twice to turn around, each time he got angrier. This is when she called Bel-Air management.
According to the Facebook post, the manager tried to talk the driver into completing the trip. The entire time, Gayle was frightened in the back seat, clutching her $7 fair.
The manager eventually talked the driver down and he took her to school where he proceeded to aggressively rip the money out of her hand.
Gayle has reported the incident to both the cab company and the Coquitlam RCMP, although she has not heard back from the cab company.
“She also reported it to Coquitlam RCMP, which would have been my suggestion, as essentially forcibly confining someone and taking her somewhere against her will is something we need to oppose, as is hurting her by tearing money out of their hand, and leaving her frightened and fearing for her safety,” wrote the mayor on Facebook.
The driver even allegedly hurt the passenger. "When they arrived, the driver ripped the money out of the frightened woman’s hand, hurting her in the process," wrote the Coquitlam mayor.
Stewart says this is not the first time the taxi company has raised concerns as the mayor states they have abandoned disabled passengers and refused trips in the past.
In an attempt to fix the issue, Steward has contacted the Transportation Minister Claire Trevena about the “current supply-managed taxi regime, a monopoly that so-often fails residents.”
In response to this incident, Stewart says we should allow ride-hailings such as Uber and Lyft to operate in BC otherwise we restrict the supply and encourage a monopoly on cab companies. He also notes that ride-hailings like Uber limit the ability to charge more as you know exactly what you are paying before entering the vehicle. You also know the drivers name and their rating out of five stars.
“I receive more complaints like Gayle’s about our taxi system than about any other type of business in our community. This has to stop. Our residents shouldn’t be held hostage to a monopoly. If taxi companies can’t fix their service, then we need to let competition fix it for them,” said Stewart.