Cab drivers face same issues every New Year’s Eve

Ron Arnott picks up as many New Year’s Eve revellers as he can on the year’s biggest party night.

Alberta Gold veteran cab driver Ron Arnott waits for his next fare outside Billy Bob’s at the Capri Centre Hotel on Sunday. Arnott says cab drivers face the same issues every New Year’s Eve.

Alberta Gold veteran cab driver Ron Arnott waits for his next fare outside Billy Bob’s at the Capri Centre Hotel on Sunday. Arnott says cab drivers face the same issues every New Year’s Eve.

Ron Arnott picks up as many New Year’s Eve revellers as he can on the year’s biggest party night.

But the 10-year veteran with Red Deer’s Alberta Gold cab company said the same old issues crop up every year and he’s tired of it.

The top problem — drivers going to addresses where the customer has found an alternative ride and has taken off.

Arnott said he’s had up to six people during New Year’s Eve who haven’t cancelled their ride, which ends up slowing service for others.

“Every cab driver will have one call where there is nobody there,” said Arnott, who estimates about 80 cabbies in Red Deer will work Dec. 31. “The cab companies actually do appreciate when the customer actually phones up and cancels because that actually allows the driver to go onto the next call.”

Partiers can also be having so much fun at a house party that they forget to look out their window and see the cab driver there waiting.

“If a cab driver was to knock on every single door, some people wouldn’t get a cab for the whole evening,” said Arnott.

Time is of the essence for the customer who is looking for speedy service — but for the driver, too. New Year’s Eve, Arnott figures, is one, if not the best, annual money maker for cabbies. On a good Dec. 31, he can make up to one week’s of earnings.

Other solid days are Christmas night, Halloween party night, and Canada Day.

Arnott, who also worked two years as a cabbie in Camrose, hasn’t missed a New Year’s Eve in 12 years.

He loves working New Year’s Eve because “everybody is having a good time” but he dislikes the headaches that come along with it.

Another pointer for people who have been partying at bars — quit calling the cab company every few minutes to see where their cab is. Generally, cab companies will receive about 20 or 30 calls from each establishment, Arnott said.

Most people who want a cab should just walk out to the parking lot entrances and typically the cab will be parked along the side.

Arnott said cab drivers don’t typically like waiting in a crowded situation because there have been fights, where people are saying “‘hey, that’s my cab, that’s my cab.’”

“Drivers just pull up and whoever is ready to go, we’ll pick up,” Arnott said. “Everybody wants a cab from 2-3 a.m. so calling does nothing but tie up the phone lines.”

Customers who get so “schmammered”, or extremely intoxicated, can be annoying too because they often don’t remember their name or address. A lot of times cab drivers won’t pick up these fares, he added.

“And all cabbies speak English, not drunkenese,” said Arnott, chuckling.

Other tips for New Year’s Eve customers — expect to pay a deposit on any out-of-town trip, smoking is not allowed in cabs, and the amount of people allowed in a cab is based on how many seatbelts there are.

And if you expect to take that yummy hotdog into the cab, forget it.

“There’s too much mess, we don’t even bother anymore,” said Arnott.

“We don’t like having mustard stains in our vehicles.”

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