Friday, 20 June 2014

End of Days - YYZ to discontinue bus service

PWT 1139 RYH
Toronto's Airport Express back in 2009 when it was decked out for a Cuba promotion.
The shuttle service to/from Pearson Airport is a common sight outside the Royal York hotel
 in downtown Toronto. But not for much longer... (photo: wikicommons)

Toronto Pearson Airport's infamous shuttle bus service, the Toronto Airport Express, will be ending their service on October 31, 2014.

Porter Airlines.Dash-8.YTZ.2008
Porter Airlines landing at Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport
on Toronto Islands, in the city centre.
The shuttle's operator, Pacific Western Transportation, says the discontinuation is due to Billy Bishop Airport's increased popularity, as well as the planned airport subway system scheduled for 2015.

For many travelers, the bus service was simply becoming too inconvenient with construction and gridlock making the service too long, and too inconvenient for cost conscious travelers looking for a cheap and quick service to downtown Toronto.

The good news is that Toronto will soon join many other cities that have a special subway line that takes passengers to/from the international airport. Metrolinx is well into construction of the new Union Pearson Express line, or UP Express. The project has already won international recognition, as Project of the Year at the 2013 Global AirRail Awards.

GTAA LINK train clip
Don't get too excited if you see the
 Link Train at Pearson, as it only
 provides inter-airport connections.
In Toronto, it will enable many of Canada's snowbirds that live right downtown to walk underground, hop on the airport subway and then get on their plane without ever going outside. Imagine leaving Toronto in the winter time when it is -20° celsius in a shirt and shorts enroute to Mexico in a comfortable climate controlled environment. No more bringing your needless parka to a tropical destination.

While there will be a gap in service between the discontinuance of the Toronto Airport Express line and that of the new airport subway, it is anticipated that travellers will rely on using the city airport (YTZ) more, taking a taxi or shared airport shuttle services.

Related resources:

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Thai Military cleverly clamps down on the Bangkok Airport taxi chaos

The colourful taxis at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Photo: omad on flickr (creative commons)
There are new rules coming to clean up the taxi chaos at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK).

You may be pleasantly surprised that the relatively chaotic approach to hailing a taxi and navigating different queues will be sorted through strict guidelines that could even include troops present to ensure taxi operators follow the new rules.

A new computerized punch system will allow taxi drivers to enter the queue in an orderly fashion and chronologically they will move up the line to where travelers are waiting for their taxi. All taxis must take passengers to their desired trip, regardless if it is 1 mile away or 150 miles away. The passenger will continue to be responsible for the taxi airport fee of 50 Baht, which is included in the price of the taxi fare.

In addition, non-airport taxis dropping passengers off at the 4th floor (arrivals) are now legally able to pick-up other travelers during their abbreviated stop. Therefore if a traveler wants to avoid the airport fee and a potentially long queue can make their way up to the 4th floor and try your luck there.

All of this will hopefully eliminate the bullying tactics of the taxi mafia which uses aggressive touts to lure weary eyed travelers to specific taxis and to chase away their competition from the airport.

This change is due to come into place mid-July.

Related resources:

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

by Todd Romaine
Striking London taxi drivers this morning.
The result? Uber sign-ups up 850%.
Image: @simonjackson80

Ask any seasoned traveler around the world and you will find few fans of the taxi industry and, more specifically, experiences with taxi drivers. Despite hundreds of personalized experiences, we tend to only recall the handful of bad ones and categorically declare disdain on any entire industry and a population of drivers. Throughout my global travels, it would seem that many taxi drivers from all parts of the globe share many of the same undesirable traits of trying to rip me off in variety of different ways. Arguably this is done most commonly in the developing world but we have all had experiences in the West dealing with our shady types here. It would seem, up until very recently, that we are permanently stuck with the taxi industry and its shenanigans.

Uber and various smaller replications may at the very least challenge in the medium term taxi operators and drivers to clean up their act. If travelers will continue to be loyal to the traditional taxi industry monopoly then their experience better be pleasurable and incorporate high tech apps, GPS feeds on the viewer screen and overall enhanced customer service. This will mean attracting drivers that are more conversant in the official languages and will likely mean that the taxi industry will need to pay increased wages and reduce the operator fees in order to be competitive. At the very least, all taxi companies will need to have an online app and be prepared to accept credit cards under all circumstances to compete. Despite protests in Europe and North America from the taxi industry on the issue of 'fairness' and lost fares from increased competition, it is unlikely Uber will go away but rather intensify globally.

The demand from younger travelers on increasing the pool of available drivers for a quicker pick-up, booking online and paying by credit card is a good thing for the travel industry. Maybe its time for taxi drivers themselves to adapt to the new trend, utilize their own car for transporting passengers and throw off the servitude shackles of the taxi industry once and for all. Let us hope that the replacement of the taxi industry with Uber does not create another type of monopoly that encourages long-term lethargy and indifference to customer loyalty and acquisition. And the most promising development on this fearful trend is the development of a driverless car, the idea being actively pursued by a Google/Uber partnership. The belief is that with rapidly evolving technology that cars should be able to safely navigate themselves and without the cost of a driver, the price for transportation should plummet so low to discard the idea of private ownership altogether which will mean less congestion and significantly reduced environmental externalities.

But, of course, would support any initiative that enhances your travel experience in a positive manner and ends the taxi monopoly!

Related resources:
Plus, in case you missed it; Do we really hate taxis? The story behind our name.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Layover Ideas: Dubai

Stunning and unique Dubai
creative commons image w4nd3rl0st on Flickr
Have a layover coming up in Dubai? Wondering what you could do with your time? Here's a little inspiration.

We've gathered the following resources - tips, stories and layover ideas - to help you get the most out of your time here... [read more].

Want more layover ideas?
• Read more stories on the LayoverIdeas Blog
• Explore cities worldwide on

Related resources
Mugging: are you a target? 10 resources
Spot the deadly fake taxi on your international travels!
Dealing with taxi drivers
Dealing with touts
Airport arrival advice