This profile is a part of the Community Champions campaign of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP). The Partnership project is led by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS), which provides a range of services for newcomers to the region. Read the story about how Raj Gill moved from India to Penticton and started up a taxi company, Eco Taxi.
On a snowy November day of 2003 Balraj (a.k.a. Raj) Gill arrived from India to Penticton to join his beautiful wife Harjinder. Today they are a family of four – they have a 16-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.
“There were two things that shocked me when I arrived – weather and culture,” admits Raj. “Time passed… the snow melted and I embraced the local culture,” he adds with a smile.
As many newcomers, Raj started learning English at the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS). Now SOICS is one of the customers.
Raj has always loved to drive. He felt that driving around the area would help him learn more about the land and the people, and driving with other people would help him improve his English. With all these reasons in mind he decided to become a taxi driver.
Notwithstanding his rich driving experience in India, he had to go through the licensing process from the very beginning. It took him three years to get a driver’s license of the class that he needed. Once he did, he started working as a cab driver. After ten years of hard work and continuous business planning his dream came true. On December 25, 2017, Raj opened the doors of Eco Taxi.
Why “eco?” All the vehicles in the fleet are hybrid Toyota Prius – ecological and economical. It was important to Raj to make sure his business is environmentally friendly, and to build a reliable team. “I have a great crew," Raj proudly states, “they are hard working and friendly, and I can always count on them."
The bright green cabs are well recognized in Penticton and soon could be flagged in other areas of the region. Recently Eco Taxi opened an operation in Kelowna and plans to offer services in Oliver in spring of 2020.
The company has a mobile app, Penticton Eco Taxi, that you can download for free from your favorite app store. It allows you to pick a vehicle type, see your journey map and when your cab is coming, and even schedule your trip in advance.
“Penticton is home for me. My family is here. My mom lives with us. My brother lives a few hours away. And Eco Taxi cars are driving around, making me happy," says Raj.