a taxi sign illuminated at night

How to Get a Vancouver Taxi Cab (+2020 Apps)

In order I’ve lived in Vancouver, London, and Barcelona and I have to say that the Vancouver taxi experience is by far the worst.

The idea of just flagging one down is as foreign as ferret soup.

And if that’s not enough we were the last North American city to get ridesharing.

If any taxi system needed a guide it’s ours, but you’ll find with a little bit of patience and inside info you’ll be dusting off destinations in no time.

INDEX

1 – Vancouver taxis
2 – How to get a taxi
3 – Prices
4 – Airport taxis + fare zones
5 – Apps
6 – FAQ

Vancouver Taxis

One of the top things to do in Vancouver is complain about the taxi service, and it starts with numbers.

With one taxi to every 4,000 residents it’s dead last for Canadian cities, and won’t even come close to our neighbours south of the border.

This was generally due to taxi lobbies pressuring the government not to issue more licenses for fear of their assets being devalued.

It’s also hard to maintain quality standards with 28 taxi companies operating in the city.

So how does one choose?

Don’t worry, I’m going to narrow it down to just a few to make it easy.

How to Get a Taxi in Vancouver BC

As I said up top if you’re getting a cab in Vancouver it’s unlikely to flag one unless you’re at major spots in downtown Vancouver like Granville Street, Gastown, Chinatown etc.

Even in the best areas to stay like Kitsilano or Commercial Drive you’ll need to call or book online – stay tuned for the links below.

So how do you get a taxi in Vancouver with the least hassle?

Here’s my 7 Vancouver taxi tips to get you rolling:

  • Always consider ridesharing or Vancouver public transport first
  • Calling ahead is usually the best idea (numbers below)
  • Always check with your hotel or hostel first as they can call one for you
  • If you’re downtown, head to a major hotel as they have ranks outside
  • Taxis with roof lights on are free to hail
  • Tipping is standard so leave 10-20% unless the service was really bad
  • From abroad? Ask for a receipt to get a GST refund on the ride

Keep in mind too that during typical Vancouver weather with rain it’ll be harder to hail, so seek refuge in Vancouver’s top bars or restaurants and call there.

Also: don’t be afraid to grab the cell phone number of any competent driver. If you leave a good tip, calling them directly will often be faster for you return trip.

Vancouver Taxi Companies

Any Google search for ‘Vancouver taxi’ will yield you a veritable bloodbath of one star reviews and turbulent tirades.

a list of low vancouver taxi reviews

Afraid yet?

The important thing to remember is people write reviews mostly after bad experiences, and these scores don’t reflect the mean.

Also, this means companies are virtually interchangeable so there’s no point stressing too much about which is the best taxi company in Vancouver.

That said, I’ve added a few pluses for each Vancouver taxi company in the brackets.

Taken more than one of these companies? I’d be curious to hear your comparison in the comments below.

Vancouver Taxi Prices

City bylaws dictate standard taxi rates across the board regardless of company.

Vancouver taxis are required by law to run on the meter so no negotiations are possible. If they quote you a flat rate, tell them to hit the bricks.

The following fares are based on average traffic flow only and are subject to fluctuations.

  • Flag (first 1/13th of a km): $3.25
  • Per km: $1.88
  • Per hour: $33.55

As a rule of thumb expect to pay about $8.00-$12.00 for a trip solely downtown between major attractions like the Vancouver Lookout and Stanley Park.

Going elsewhere? I usually use this fairly accurate Vancouver taxi fare calculator.

Vancouver Airport Taxi

Let me preface this by saying that if you’re staying downtown it could be considerably cheaper taking Vancouver airport transport.

The Skytrain takes 26 minutes and costs just under $10.00.

That said, if you’re traveling in a group, have the company card, or are just made of money then taking a taxi from Vancouver airport to downtown is ideal.

YVR is 15 km (9 miles) from City Centre Station (Granville & Georgia). Expect the taxi trip to take 20 (off peak) to 45 minutes (rush hour).

Vancouver Airport Taxi Fare Zones

To avoid price gouging there are set flat fares from Vancouver Airport to the city, depending on what area you’re going to.

Each area is assigned a zone from 1-12 with costs between $20.00 and $41.00.

As you can see in the preview below downtown costs $36.00.

yvr to vancouver taxi fare zones

You can see all the fares downloading the YVR taxi fare zone pdf.

Vancouver Taxi Apps

The four downtown Vancouver taxi companies (Yellow, Vancouver, MacLure’s, and Black Top) have recently launched a singular online dispatching system.

Downloading eCab allows you to book, pay for, and track taxis with an app just like Uber or Lyft.

It’s available for both iPhone and Android devices.

FAQ

How much is a taxi in Vancouver?

The minimum charge is $3.25.

Between destinations downtown expect to pay between $8.00-$12.00 with fares reaching $20.00-$30.00 for other neighbourhoods outside the city centre.

How much for a taxi from Vancouver airport to downtown?

There is a flat rate of $36.00 to get to the central business district.

The port/pier costs $38.00 and Stanley Park will cost $39.00.

How do I get a taxi in Vancouver?

The best ways are to hail one at major intersections downtown, head to large hotels with taxi stands, call one, or book one using the eCab app.

How do I call a taxi in Vancouver?

You can book taxis by phone calling the following numbers: (604) 681-1111, (604) 681-2181, (604) 871-1111, (604) 683-6666, (604) 433-4466.

Can I get a taxi with a baby seat?

Unfortunately no, as taxi drivers are exempt (under Section 36.09b of the MVAR) from providing car seats it’s generally expected that parents bring their own.

What is the maximum number of passengers in a Vancouver taxi?

The maximum number of passengers in Vancouver is 4.

I need a Vancouver taxi for 5, how do I get one?

You must pre-book by calling and specifying your need for a van taxi. Also, with the eCab app it is possible to request a bigger vehicle.

Is there a Vancouver taxi fare calculator?

Aside from using the app eCab you can also get quite accurate estimations at Taxi Calculator.

Do Vancouver taxis take debit or credit card?

Yes, all Vancouver taxis have systems to process payment by card but please ensure you tell the driver before the ride starts.

If the driver tells you the machine is broken (a common story) then tell them to call dispatch and run the card manually.

The machine usually miraculously starts working again!

I have a disability/limited mobility/wheelchair, what do you recommend?

The Toyota Sienna vans at Maclure’s Cabs have rear-entry with a non-slip ramp and can assist with walkers, canes, guide dogs, wheelchairs and more.

Do I need to tip Vancouver taxis?

Locals typically leave 10%-20% but for below average service it’s ok to simply round up the price to the nearest dollar or ask them to keep the change.

Can I pay in US dollars?

Taxi drivers in Vancouver are happy to accept US dollars, just don’t be expecting a favourable exchange rate for the privilege to do so.

If you pay using US coins they will be accepted at face value.

Flag Me Down for More Info

I like to consider myself a cab driver in some way… you flag me down and I help you get where you’re going in my city.

That’s why I want you to write me for custom advice.

You can do this by following us and messaging on our Facebook page or by writing in the comments below.

Happy riding 🙂

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