Denzil Minnan-Wong, darling of the taxi industry, wants to force all cab companies to use the same car

Denzil Minnan-Wong, darling of the taxi industry, wants to force all cab companies to use the same car

(Image: Michael Gil) 

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong may be one of Rob Ford’s staunchest allies on council, but let it never be said that he isn’t open minded. As if he wasn’t unpopular enough with Toronto cabbies—you might recall how a posse of them chased him down a city hall corridor when the city met with taxi drivers a month ago—he’s now proposing something we suspect will be just a touch controversial: adopting a uniform cab design for the entire city, possibly modelled after a similar proposal in New York City.

According to the Globe and Mail:

Last month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a 10-year contract with Nissan to build its NV200 concept cab, designed specifically for the Big Apple.

The NV200 won out over submissions from Ford and Karsan, a Turkish company, and features passenger airbags, independent climate controls, filtered interior air, USB ports, high fuel efficiency and a transparent roof. It can also be adapted to hybrid or full electric propulsion.

“I don’t have any preconceived notion of what it should look like,” said Mr. Minnan-Wong of the Toronto cab.

Discussing the matter in council yesterday, the spectre of the disastrous Toronto a la Cart program—the last time the city tried to force a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment on unwilling businesses—hung over the debate and was mentioned early in the proceedings. It might be a bit soon for that kind of panic, but Minnan-Wong knows as well as anyone that the city is capable of finding any number of creative ways to ham up a simple plan.

That said, the proposal does have some things going for it. If nothing else, the New York cabs seem pretty cool, but we can see a slew of political hurdles that need to be navigated first. The biggest and most obvious: cab companies likely don’t want to buy an entire new fleets of cars if the ones they’re currently using are running just fine. Also, it’s not exactly a small-government solution, so there may be some push-back from the mayor’s office (especially if the phone starts ringing). We’ll be waiting and watching to see what city staff recommends in September.

Calls for a Toronto-style cab [Toronto Sun]
Councillor calls for uniform cabs on Toronto streets [Globe and Mail]
Councillor wants an exclusive taxicab in Toronto [City News]