Changes are in the works for how taxis are booked and dispatched in Thunder Bay, as part of a move to revise how taxi service is regulated.

Currently, people who want a taxi must phone a specific cab company, then wait for a car to show up — a wait that can sometimes be long.

Under a new model proposed by the city's bylaw department, all taxis would be dispatched by an independent, central agency.

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The city of Thunder Bay and the Police Services Board are looking to change how taxis are regulated. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The city’s manager of licensing and enforcement said the new system would lead to a quicker response.

"The dispatch company would know — on the wall, through a GPS system — exactly, out of the 96 licensed cabs we have in this city, where they are at any one time,” Ron Bourret said.

More talks required

The idea still needs discussion with Thunder Bay's taxi operators.

"We would sit down with them and discuss it,” Bourret said.

“I'm sure they'll still have a go-to person there. I'm sure they'll monitor it themselves, and we would have subcommittee meetings, which we usually have, to discuss any problems that are going about it."

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Ron Bourret, the city’s manager of licensing and enforcement, says the new taxi system would lead to a quicker response for customers. (CBC)

If the system is adopted in Thunder Bay, it will take at least six months to implement. Bourret said it's fortunate the city only needs to consult with three companies, rather than dozens of independent driver-operators.

The proposed change means Thunder Bay's Police Services Board could soon start the process of divesting itself of regulating taxis, as the bylaw department would eventually take over licensing and inspection of cabs.

The chair of the taxi review committee said he feels the taxi companies support the change.

"[The] strong sense is that they will be on board,” Brian McKinnon said.

“But we want to hear from them and find out what the issues are.”

McKinnon said other changes still being considered include fare structure, as well as how taxis are dispatched.