Iqaluit’s biggest cab company gobbles up its main competitor

Caribou Cabs has acquired Pai-Pa Taxi

On March 20, Caribou Cabs announced it’s purchasing its competitor, Pai-Pa Taxi. (Photo by Courtney Edgar)

By Courtney Edgar

Last week, the biggest taxi company in Iqaluit got even bigger when Caribou Cabs acquired Pai-Pa Taxi—a deal that had been discussed by the two owners of the two businesses for years but only became official on March 20.

“We want to provide more, we want to serve more,” said Idris Omar, Caribou Cabs’ media and public relations manager.

“We want to expand our capacity to provide a bigger range of transportation in Iqaluit.”

In fact, while the takeover has already begun—Pai-Pa cars are now Caribou Cabs’ property and Pai-Pa drivers are now Caribou Cabs’ employees—the final sale price is not yet clear.

Omar said the price is still being negotiated. It won’t be finalized until the beginning of April.

However, by the end of this week, Caribou Cabs expects to be fully moved into what used to be Pai-Pa’s office.

This means there are now around 60 drivers in total within the merged company, Omar said.

On a Friday night, the busiest time for taxis in Iqaluit, almost all of them are out picking up passengers at any given time.

During a typical day, Caribou Cabs gets between 59 and 65 calls per hour. But on a Friday night, it gets between 75 and 80 calls per hour.

Now that the Pai-Pa calls are being rerouted to the Caribou Cabs phone line, the phone does not stop ringing.

For the next week, before they can get more dispatch lines, some calls just cannot go through.

“It’s literally non-stop,” Omar said.

This first transition week has been a challenge when it comes to calls for services, Omar said.

Soon they will have six lines between two stations.

While Caribou tried to outsource calls to an Ottawa call centre back in October 2018 as a trial, the experiment ultimately failed after a week or two.

“It was a project we tried but we have to listen to our customers, and our customers were not happy,” Omar said.

Now, all calls stay in Iqaluit, and will remain that way into the foreseeable future.

The takeover also means more Iqaluit taxis will be equipped with tablet-like devices that show the locations of vehicles and customers. Caribou Cabs has used this digital dispatch system since last fall.

As well, over the next few years Caribou Cabs plans to test new vehicles that are “stronger” than the current fleet, said Omar.

Omar also said he hopes this merger will help improve customer service.

Now that they have taken over their biggest competitor, it will be easier to identify drivers and cars when customers have complaints, Omar said.

This had been a challenge in the past. People would make complaints about services but not know the name of the driver, the vehicle number or if it was even a Caribou or Pai-Pa cab.

With the two companies combined together in the dispatch system it will mean that each ride is more easily tracked.

And if disciplinary action or terminating an employee for negligence or poor service needs to happen, now it will be much clearer to identify and investigate.

“Our main goal is to provide a good customer service— to know that you are the only one that people enjoy,” Omar said.

“Safety and security is our number one priority.”

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Common Sense on

    The service has gone downhill. I’ve used 44 for many, many years but I am thinking of switching to an independent taxi now for my travel needs. Too many drivers not showing up, don’t know where they are going, don’t know how to use the equipment. It’s frustrating as a customer. Now to top that off they want us to pay more for less service. No thank you.

  2. Posted by More for Less? on

    I can understand the need to up the price on the cab fare…maybe? You say it’s to improve the vehicles and services? Really?
    You bring people up north that have absolutely no real driving experience, they need to learn about the community, the Inuktut language etc…
    A lot of them, don’t even help the elders get in and out of the cabs or show them the respect.
    First give them the training they should be getting on how to treat their customers, make sure they know what the heck kind of vehicle they are driving and so on…
    You may want to improve your equipment…that should include the drivers.

    • Posted by sandy on

      wtf? Why should drivers learn inuktitut and ‘inuit culture’? These drivers are filling up a massive void in the market. They are in it for the money (which is their right), the taxi companies then have employees, and the public gets the service. you can pull this argument when it comes to government jobs, although the same logic applies to the gov since its funding comes from southern taxpayers money anyways. but on no planet can you impose local language and culture on private companies’ workers.. especially a language and culture that the locals themselves are failing to preserve or progress.

      • Posted by John on

        sandy, because they are in Nunavut, ? when you decide to live in the place you learn the culture the language, you don’t expect the local people an elder to learn a foreign language. It’s that simple and when a person from somewhere else comes up here and puts in the effort to try and learn our culture and language they have great respect from us.
        Not the current view you have sandy, it’s terrible, you need to widen your view and remove the ignorant shades.

        • Posted by sandy on

          The fact of the matter is that a culture or language is as valuable as its owners make it. In this scenario, the local is in need of that taxi’s service more than the taxi driver is need for the customer’s money. The taxi driver can drive a taxi anywhere else in the country and earn a living. But if those drivers did not work, there is no one to replace them locally. As per the language, all drivers speak English, one of the FOUR official languages of Nunavut, and the most spoken in Iqaluit, so do not call it foreign please!

        • Posted by Inuktut on

          The Inuit Language Protection Act was unanimously approved in September 2008 by the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. Its public communications and services provisions apply to every private sector and government organization operating in Nunavut, including: businesses, societies, community organizations, Inuit organizations, cooperatives, unions, and non-government organizations along with municipal, territorial and federal government.
          Nunavut is a model on the national and world stages in the protection of an indigenous language. Our territorial language laws clearly affirm that Inuit in our territory have an inherent right to the use of Inuktut, in full equality with other official languages.

          • Posted by realism on

            Inuit have the right to speak Inuktitut the same way everyone else has the right not to speak nor learn Inuktitut. Stop this nonsense. How do you expect a taxi driver to learn a language like Inuktitut when Inuit themselves are struggling to agree on a formal format of it, and struggling badly to pass it on to the next generation?

          • Posted by Yea Right Buddy on

            “Nunavut is a model on the national and world stages in the protection of an indigenous language”

            Are you sure about that? As there is almost no Inuktitut instruction in our school system you can call me skeptical.

  3. Posted by Unik on

    I’ve like the new tablet system they’ve implemented.

    Hopefully the extra dollar will also make sure all the vehicles are equipped with proper winter tires.

    Although I must say, routing all the Paipa calls to one phone central before being ready for the cal increase was not very smart.

  4. Posted by there_we_go on

    why don’t Inuit want jobs as taxi drivers?

    • Posted by Unik on

      I wonder this myself.
      I think I’ve only had one single Inuk driver ever.

      • Posted by iqalummiut on

        because Inuit drivers will get hassled by inuit customers for free rides

        • Posted by Unik on

          I’m not sure what the solution to that.

          Business is business in my eyes.
          Does this happen with other industries as well?

  5. Posted by Tommy on

    Somebody should write about taxi cabs in the city. Peiple would have alot to say about the life in the city. I’d buy the book.

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