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Taxi drivers concerned about after hours violence



Taxi loop becoming more chaotic for drivers and customers

The unprovoked assault of a Whistler taxi driver more than two weeks ago was the final straw for a group of local cab drivers, who feel that the taxi loop off Village Gate Boulevard is out of control. They have written a number of letters to this paper, stating the problems and asking for help with the situation.

The incident took place on March 9 after 2 a.m. While two groups were arguing over who was there first, the driver, who asked to remain unidentified, was dragged out of his car by an unknown assailant and punched repeatedly for over a minute. The driver was rescued when someone finally pulled the attacker off.

The RCMP were called at least three times, but did not arrive until after the assailant had left the scene. He is described as stout with short brown hair and a puffy jacket.

The driver was not seriously injured but had a black eye and a swollen cheek, as well as various minor cuts and bruises. Other cabs attempted to follow the suspect, but were unable to track him down.

"I don’t know what happened," said the driver. "I might have nudged him with the car or passed him when he was trying to flag me down or something, people are constantly jumping in front of your vehicle. He just pulled me out and started punching me."

While this was a first for the driver, he says fights between bar goers in the loop – men and women – are almost a nightly occurrence, although the situation is far worse on weekends. Drivers have been hit before and cars have been vandalized by angry crowds kicking doors, mirrors and lights.

Cab drivers pull to the front of the crowd to allow other taxis to pull up behind them, and to try to keep the crowd from spilling out of the loop onto Village Gate Boulevard. They have no idea who was there first.

"People are already waiting at the lights, trying to hail cabs before they get into the loop to try and jump the queue. People perceive that it’s a free for all, and that gives them the initiative to try and grab any cab they can," he said.

"The result is you sometimes get three or four groups of people rushing the same cab, getting into traffic, fighting with each other, and the cab driver who’s pulling up has to be the referee."

One driver sees the current situation as a public safety issue as well as an issue of driver safety, and believes that it could easily be avoided.

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