Why it could soon be more difficult to hail a taxi—and more expensive once you do

Why it could soon be more difficult to hail a taxi—and more expensive once you do

Taxi Reforms Toronto (Image: Saimz Eyez)
 

Exactly nobody is happy with Toronto’s screwed-up taxi system. Riders find the $4.25 starting fare exorbitant, while the current two-tier licencing system—some licence holders can sell or rent out their plates, others cannot—makes it nearly impossible for the average driver to earn a living wage. The city, therefore, is looking to streamline its taxi regulations by introducing a single plate that would require owners to drive their own vehicle, along with requirements that all taxis have credit-debit machines and be wheelchair-accessible. Sound good? Well, the Toronto Taxi Alliance hates the idea. 

This local league of taxi owners, drivers, brokerages and fleets is showing its PR smarts by focusing on the potential effects on passengers. “Higher fares, longer wait times, fewer fuel-efficient taxis, and greater safety risks. These are just a few of the realities facing Toronto taxi users if these reforms are put into effect,” Beck Taxi owner Gail Souter said in a TTA release. The industry group argues that the cost of buying new, wheelchair-accessible cars will result in increased fares, and that the new licence isn’t friendly to operators of large fleets, which she says will result in fewer taxis and longer waits for customers. The group also argues it’s more difficult to hold independent drivers accountable if there‘s a safety issue, and that drivers who can’t lease their vehicles out will have to drive longer hours, which makes accidents more likely.

For its part, the city is dubious about at least some of those claims: “I see absolutely no reason why fares would go up,” councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker told Global News, explaining that nearly all of the city’s 44 draft recommendations came from taxi drivers and companies themselves. A report is headed to city council early next year. Until then, the somewhat dysfunctional status quo remains. [CBC News]