New taxi company based in Saanich

Uptown Taxi will use six-passenger SUVs for its entire vehicle fleet

Paul Jey and Mandip Hari stand in front of their SUV cabs following the launch of their new company Uptown Taxi.

Paul Jey and Mandip Hari stand in front of their SUV cabs following the launch of their new company Uptown Taxi.

A new cab company with its home offices in Saanich has launched a service that co-founders Paul Jey and Mandip Hari maintain will revolutionize the taxi scene in Victoria.

According to Jey, the company wanted to shake things up in Victoria by designing their service to address the customer “pain points” they discovered when they searched the internet for online reviews of Victoria cab services. The partners explained how they set out to design their own company in a way that addressed those problems and created solutions to existing complaints.

The most obvious of the solutions offered by the fledgling company involves the size and utility of the vehicles in their fleet – they are all six-passenger SUVs.

“Until now, there has been a shortage of van taxis [in Greater Victoria],” said Jey, adding  the situation presented a particular challenge to tourists and business travellers with luggage or for larger groups travelling together.

Since Uptown Taxi is regulated by the Passenger Transportation Board, and fares are not based upon the number of passengers in the vehicle, the fares remain the same regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. This is especially important, said Jey, when one considers the large number of visitors arriving in Greater Victoria, often as a part of larger groups.

But it’s not only tourist groups who can benefit from a larger capacity vehicle, said Jey.

“It’s a great option for groups heading out together. Where, in the past, a group of people might have to take multiple cabs at a higher combined cost, with us they can travel anywhere in the Capital Region for one fare. It’s sort of a no-brainer.”

Another important focus of the cab venture involves the drivers behind the wheel of the distinctive aqua blue vans.

“When we looked at reviews of cab service in Victoria, we saw a lot of complaints about rude or unfriendly drivers. We put into place a screening process designed to find fun and friendly drivers who can carry on a conversation and be personable and pleasant,” said Hari. “We screen about 30 applicants for every driver we hire, making certain the drivers we have are a good fit with the culture of the company. It’s all about high-quality service.”

Uptown Taxi’s current fleet of Toyota Highlander hybrids will soon be joined by additional wheelchair-accessible vans – vehicles with the flexibility to take regular fares, but which will be able to easily be changed over to accommodate wheelchairs.

 

A last, but important factor that led to Uptown Taxi’s choice of the larger hybrid SUVs for their fleet is, perhaps surprisingly, the environment. Jey maintained the hybrid vehicles are very fuel efficient and, by virtue of the number of people who can travel together in a single trip, they are in keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.