Hundreds of cab drivers had their say at city hall on Thursday about proposed changes to the taxi industry.
The city’s Licensing and Standards Committee was meeting to consider a staff report which outlines 40 recommendations, including a new Toronto Taxicab Licence (TTL), making all cars accessible and allowing for payment up front.
Because so many people had signed up to speak, Thursday’s meeting was moved to council chambers.
Critics said the TTL would adversely affect rates and wait times.
“You’re going to be standing there at two o’clock in the morning looking for a cab and it’s not going to be there because our night drivers are the ones who work out of fleet garages,” said Diamond Taxi CEO Jim Bell.
“TTL kills fleet garages.”
But many shift workers said the new license would cut out absentee owners and put drivers back in charge — helping them earn a decent wage without having to work around the clock.
“I don’t end up taking home more than $600 a week and I have to put in 12 hours a day,” said taxi driver Ali Tabrez Chaudhrey.
To hold a TTL, the owner must drive; he or she must drive at least 167 hours a month; and the vehicle must be wheelchair-accessible. The licence allows up to three additional drivers and can be transferred or sold.
Under the proposed system, when cabbies give up their current licences or when businesses with licences close down, the city would issue TTLs to replace them.
Other ideas the city wants to try out are allowing drivers to demand payment up front (up to $25), allowing drivers to charge passengers who soil their cabs and setting up taxi stands in front of fire hydrants.
The recommendations, approved at Thursday’s meeting, will be debated in council on Feb. 19.