Cold night, long time for cab ride in Pitt Meadows

Senior waits 90 minutes for a taxi

A shopping trip to a Pitt Meadows mall turned into a long, cold ordeal for a Maple Ridge woman who was just thankful to get home after waiting 90 minutes for a taxi.

“I’m walking with a walker. I’m 81-years-old and I was having a really tough day because it was so cold,” said Barbara Spavold.

She uses a walker, after a hip operation, and last Sunday caught the bus from her home near 240th Street, trying to get to Meadowtown Centre at 200th Street in Pitt Meadows.

Because of a change in the Sunday schedule, she got off the bus in front of West Coast Kia, and found herself stranded on the wrong side of the busy Lougheed Highway.

That’s when people started to help out. Staff at West Coast Kia gave her a ride to Boston Pizza in Meadowtown Centre.

“They were just so sweet to go out of their way to do that. They didn’t have to do that,” adding that she’s going to send them a card to say thanks.

Spavold had a bite to eat then ventured over to Winners for some shopping, then in the chilly, late afternoon, had staff call a cab for her ride back to her Maple Ridge home. Then the waiting began.

Spavold stood outside Winners for an hour and a half, but no cab came by. Staff at the store tried three times to call a taxi for the trip.

“So they phoned a taxi and I waited and I waited and waited.”

Spavold went back inside the store to ask to staff to make a second call, then went outside to wait again.

“I waited in total, one hour and a half for a taxi.”

Store staff told her that the taxi company had sent a driver to the location, but the driver couldn’t find her.

George Nestor, manager with Alouette Taxi, checked the logs and said the company received three calls from that location at about 5 p.m. and sent out a car each time, at 5:10 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 5:50 p.m.

“Three different cars couldn’t find anybody there,” Nestor said.

“We don’t like to leave people waiting. We’re here to make money and to service people. We’re not here to leave people waiting for an hour and a half.”

Every once in a while, things go wrong, but that’s not how they usually do things, he added, saying he hasn’t received a complaint about the incident. Sometimes, there’s a communication break down when staff at a store call a cab for a customer.

Eventually, a kind-hearted Coquitlam woman spotted Spavold shivering outside with her walker. After initially heading to Coquitlam, the woman turned her car around and offered Spavold a ride. It was in the opposite direction at 240th Street, but she drove her home anyways.

“I have so many people on that day to say thank you to,” Spavold said.

She’d like to send the woman who gave her a ride a Christmas card to say thanks, but can’t contact her.

People were so generous that day, she said, adding she tries to stay as independent as possible.

Spavold said she’d be in favour of ride-sharing coming to Maple Ridge. The provincial government has said ride sharing is a year away.

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