Toronto Taxi Regulation Changes – what happened?

There has been debate, some of it quite acrimonious, about taxis in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

A crude history might sound like this: First, there were taxi licenses. Licenses could be owned by non-drivers. Eventually a large fraction of all licenses were owned by companies that used real drivers to actually do the taxi work. These drivers were essentially renters of a license. Under this scheme a taxi license allowed the owner to run the vehicles 7/24, and not drive any of them.These licenses can be sold, and are (or were) worth over $300,000.00 CAD.

Then, due to complaints, a new license type was added to the mix. Called an Ambassador license, this allowed a driver to drive a vehicle. No second shift. No replacement during illness or vacation. This license could not be sold or inherited, as I recall.

At this point, very few taxis were wheelchair-enabled.

When the debate started, there were many proposals. It looked like the answer was going to be, some number (less than 300 if I recall correctly) of new licenses would be issued that were strictly for accessible vehicles. (Accessible in Canada means, roughly, wheelchair-accessible.)

Then, the actual new laws were unveiled. The changes are sweeping, and in some cases, unreasonable.

All vehicles must be ‘accessible’ within ten years. This despite the fact that few riders need such accessibility, and the cost to each owner is considerable.

All vehicles must be driven some number of hours by its owner, every month. My recall is that this number was over 160 hours, which means four forty-hour weeks. If this large number is correct, the vacation and illness question remains. It does allow the owner-operator to have second (and third) drivers.

This means that fleet ownership will end by 2024. How existing owners of large numbers of now-salable licenses will be compensated (for their loss in value) remains to be seen. Expect unpleasant developments in this area.

This means that all vehicles must support wheelchair access. Expect interesting lobbying on this point for the next ten years.

Now for the dumb question. All of this will be in effect in ten years, not today. Do many of us really believe that the lobbying between now and then won’t change much of this? It is a dumb question, eh?

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