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Stricter booze laws packing city’s cabs

The moment downtown nightclubs close, Sean Behjatnejad’s office is flooded with calls.

The moment downtown nightclubs close, Sean Behjatnejad’s office is flooded with calls.

The dispatcher at Vancouver’s Black Top & Checker Cabs said ever since B.C. introduced Canada’s strictest drunk-driving law on Sept. 20, taxi drivers “can’t even handle it.

“About a month ago on Friday nights we used to get 400 calls every hour. Now we get maybe 550,” he said yesterday.

Before officials lowered the blood-alcohol limit to 0.05 per cent from 0.08 fewer people were willing to fork out the money for a cab, said Behjatnejad.

“Now they still don’t have money, but they have no choice. People have to wait longer than they used to. Some of them get frustrated, some of them just walk.”

Other cab companies are also reporting that weekend partiers seem to be altering their plans.

“We’ve been getting a lot of new customers that haven’t called us before,” said Belinda, a dispatcher at MacLure’s Cabs, who would not give her full name.

MacLure’s drivers have also noticed that customers are “definitely more intoxicated,” said Belinda — possibly because they know they won’t be doing the driving themselves.

She added that drivers are earning more and “have been coming back in much better moods.”

Over Twitter, one of Metro Vancouver’s followers said he was told by three taxi companies they were too busy to pick him up on Saturday night. “I was finally picked up by a black top taxi after 30 minutes,” said the man, who uses the online handle @Clausito.

 
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