Iqaluit’s now only cab company, Caribou Cabs, continues to improve its services and overcome challenges after a merger.
Caribou Cabs and Pai-Pa Taxi joined forces in March of this year.
The merger has led to mixed reactions from both employees and customers.
Former Pai-Pa Taxi employees now have the advantage of having more customers and therefore more money, according to Danny Savard, owner of Caribou Cabs. Prior to the merger, the drivers of Caribou Cabs received most of the calls, he explained.
A taxi driver named Louis, who has been working with Caribou Cabs for about two years and wished for his last name not to be revealed, said he is glad there is no more competition among cab companies.
Simultaneously, however, he recognizes customers now lack options. During the early months of the merger, he recalls customers complaining about not having the option to choose between cab companies.
The other common complaint was the long waiting times for taxis.
“It is getting better, at the beginning it was kind of difficult,” said Louis.
According to Savard, the taxi merger has allowed the company to be “a little bit more on top of their game” and provide better customer service.
“The only hiccup we ended up having were the phone lines. The (phone line) system crashed on us,” explained Savard.
To deal with the unreliable phone lines and address customer complaints, Caribou Cabs launched an app. It was released on May 22.
The app shows both the location of the vehicle and customers. It also notifies passengers of their taxi’s expected arrival time.
According to employee Nasser Haymour, the app has “drastically” improved their customer service.
It is so efficient that 90 per cent of customers are reached within five minutes, explained Haymour.
“We’re the equivalent of public transit for Iqaluit right now. And we feel we’re doing a very good job at it with customer service, with efficiency,” said Ronnie McGregor, the business development advisor.
In addition to the new app, all taxis are now equipped with a tablet that has a GPS and voice/video recording.
Personally, for Louis the GPS is not very useful since he knows the routes and destinations by memory but he does find the tablet useful because it records all conversations. To him this provides a sense of safety in case there is an assault or dispute.
Dealing with drunk and aggressive individuals during night shifts is a challenge for him.
“Sometimes they go very far like trying to punch you or to fight you,” said Louis. “They assault you and are aggressive.”
Future improvements for taxi services
Caribou Cabs has created designated pick up spots in areas around the city with no fixed address. For example, there are several designated places at Syliva Grinnell Territorial Park known to customers.
Savard is working with the city to have taxi signs and benches in the designated areas.
He is also aiming to have a system similar to Uber, where the customer could pay the flat rate of $8 with a debit or credit card. Savard plans to meet with his programmer in January of 2020 to discuss this possibility.
Although the present app allows customers to rate their ride experience, Caribou Cabs wants to create a specific section for comments and complaints.
Another goal is to have a mini-bus shuttle and a handicap service for the public.
“We are willing to work with the city in order to provide an even better service,” said McGregor.
Meanwhile, Louis is hoping bar owners will begin selling vouchers for a taxi ride to late night customers.