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‘All hands on deck’ for taxi drivers on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is expected to be the busiest night of the year for cab drivers – but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to hail a taxi.

“We’ve been preparing it for quite some time now. It’s the big explosion at the end of the year,” Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi Limited, told CityNews on Monday.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck night.”

Hubbard said that Beck’s 1,750 drivers have been revving up for New Year’s Eve, with some Saturdays in December as busy as a typical holiday.

“It’s busy all month. For New Year’s Eve, there will be 50-60 people in our dispatch office alone. We want to ensure that people are getting taxis and that drivers are making money.”

There are a few tips to make sure you get a cab.

If you are hailing a cab in person, separate yourself from the crowd. Stand apart from large groups on the sidewalk and you may have better luck flagging down a cab.

Go to main streets or major hotels.  Be patient and if you do call for a cab, make sure you wait for it – it will come.

“Patience is the biggest thing – we won’t forget about anyone. But it could be a five-minute or an hour-long wait. The driver will call you when he gets there,” Hubbard said.

Beck, HailoRoyal Taxi, Diamond Taxi and Uber all have apps as well as phone service.

Can drivers refuse a fare?

There are only a few reasons why a driver can refuse a fare, Hubbard said.

If they fear for their safety, if the person has, in a prior circumstance, not paid a fire and finally, if the person does not supply a valid destination, they can refuse a fare.

“You can’t get in and say, ‘start driving,’ “she explained.

“There’s been talk of drivers refusing short fares – it’s not a cherry-picking situation. Legally, you can get in a cab. We have a zero tolerance about it. If it happens to you, get the cab number and let us know.”

If you’re downtown, flag a cab. At the same time, they’re calling for really cold weather. Using our app or using the web – you’ll never deal with a busy signal.”

Other transit options

Operation Red Nose, now in its 30th year, is offering free rides home for those too drunk to drive or are otherwise impaired. Whether it’s fatigue or medication, the organization’s volunteers are available to those who need to get home safe.

This year, Operation Red Nose will offer programs in Burlington, Newmarket and Aurora. Click here for more.

In Toronto, the TTC will be free from 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2014. The ride is sponsored by Corby Spirit and Wine, which has signed a three-year partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission.

In Mississauga, MiWay service is free from 7 p.m.  on Dec. 31 to 4 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2014. Click here for more information.

GO Transit will be free after 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 until regular service begins on Jan. 1, 2014. On New Year’s Day, Go Transit will operate on a Sunday schedule.

We want to hear your NYE horror stories – and your taxi successes. Let us know in the comments.