Vancouver If Vancouver residents had their own version of the elusive hunt for the perfect man, one quality would be markedly different from those on most wish lists: he would be driving a taxi. Hailing a cab in Vancouver is one of the most difficult things to do in the city. There are shift changes among cabbies during commuter hours that leave a period of time when they are unavailable. Only a limited number of taxis are allowed to work at the airport or pick up passengers downtown. Cruise ship passengers disembarking in one of Vancouver's busiest areas have complained that they have waited as long as two hours to get a cab. Demand is rising with tourist numbers at near record levels and tens of thousands of new residents living in the downtown core. Vancouver is in the unique - and frustrating for those waiting for a ride - position of having the least cabs per residents in Canada and possibly in North America. If you live in Boston, you are three times more likely to get a cab when you need one than if you lived in Vancouver. The populations are approximately the same, but Boston has Vancouver beat in one area: there's one cab for every 329 residents of Boston; in Vancouver, that ratio is one for every 1,258. Last year, a local television station shot footage of cabbies turning away fares to the suburbs and avoiding passengers in the entertainment district. Cabbies prefer shorter trips around downtown because the tips are better. A trip to the suburbs could mean a half-hour drive back to the city with an empty back seat. The prickly relationship between cab drivers and passengers has seen grumblings reach a peak. That is why last week the provincial government stepped in and created a bill of rights. Drivers will no longer be allowed to refuse trips to the suburbs and are subject to fines of C$288 (HK$2,250) if they reject passengers who are heading out of metro Vancouver. One worry that Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has is that the taxi industry will be a poor ambassador for the city when visitors flock to the Winter Olympics. 'We are inviting the world here in 2010,' said Mr Falcon, who has himself been rejected as a passenger when he wanted to go to his home in the suburb of Surrey. 'We want to make sure we have a world-class taxi industry we can be proud of.' The ministry is setting up undercover sting operations to try to catch cabbie rejections. But passengers won't be let off the hook themselves. The bill of rights also has a section for drivers saying they can refuse rides to anyone who doesn't pay a deposit or is acting offensively. One section in the bill of rights that isn't sitting right with many drivers, however, is the provision that they must take guide dogs in their vehicles. Last year, a cab company was fined C$2,500 after one of its drivers, a Muslim, refused to let a man and his seeing-eye dog get into the car, saying it was against his religion to be close to a dog. Representatives from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Muslim Canadian Federations have said that the bill of rights may collide with Muslim drivers' religious rights. In a city where there are slim pickings for cabs, cabbies can be very picky.