Some big changes are coming to the taxi industry after city council spent most of Wednesday debating a host of reforms including accessibility, licences and cleaning.
Council voted 31-12 in favour of implementing the Toronto Taxicab Licence (TTL), which would replace the existing standard and Ambassador licences.
Following the vote, applause erupted from the dozens of taxi drivers in attendance.
The TTL was favoured by shift workers who said the new licence would cut out absentee owners and put drivers back in charge — helping them earn a decent wage without having to work around the clock.
Coun. Janet Davis said Wednesday that shift drivers, typically at the bottom of the chain, get paid very poorly and have the worst hours.
Under the new system, when cabbies give up their current licences or when businesses with licences close down, the city would issue TTLs to replace them.
The TTL will be effective as of July 1 and drivers will have until June 30, 2024 to transfer over to the new licence.
The city also approved 290 new wheelchair-accessible cab licences and endorsed a goal to achieve a fleet of accessible taxis.
“If you or I, without a wheelchair, can get a cab by phone or by hail, then it should be the same for someone with a wheelchair. That is the goal,” Executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards Tracey Cook explained.
Vehicle fleets will also be getting a facelift as council voted 31-12 in favour of transitioning all taxis to alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles. Council also made snow tires mandatory for all vehicles.
However, council voted against a so-called “throw-up charge” which would give drivers the ability to charge a fee to people who soil the vehicle to compensate drivers for time lost due to cleaning.
With files from Erin Criger