Montreal's new taxi action plan focuses on security, tech

Cameras in taxis, a dress code for drivers and a taxi meter run by Revenue Quebec are all changes the city hopes to make to improve the taxi industry in Montreal.

Montreal Taxi Bureau promises to improve cabs in next 2 years

Montreal's taxi bureau has promised better security and smarter cabs in the next two years. (CBC)

Cameras in taxis, a dress code for drivers and a taxi meter run by Revenue Quebec are all changes the city hopes to make to improve the taxi industry in Montreal.

The mayor shook hands of different members of Montreal's taxi industry, who sat front and centre at the news conference Thursday morning.

Representatives from the Montreal Taxi Bureau then presented their plan for the taxi industry for the next two years.

"This is a short-term plan. But we're already looking for a long-term plan," said Linda Marchand, director of the taxi bureau.

It includes a plan to increase security, as well as improve technology and customer service, while also improving the image of the city. Machines for debit and credit cards are supposed to be in every cab by Oct. 15.

The taxi bureau said it's going to improve its complaint system and work on changing taxi driver training to adapt to "current needs."

As well, the city is following the lead of four other cities, including Philadelphia, and planning on adding cameras to every taxi.

In partnership with the province, it's adding taximeters to every cab to ensure prices are consistent. 

The city will also work with the province to make more taxis electric. GPS systems will be mandatory, as will a dress code for drivers. The specifics of that dress code still need to be ironed out.

Finally, the city said it's going to create a unified mark or image for all taxis for its 375th civic anniversary.

No mention of UberX

Cab drivers feel threatened by Uber, which has become a popular smartphone app-based service. (

Ignored, mostly, was the spectre of UberX, which was never mentioned by name in the presentation. Instead, city staff said they would continue with "the fight against illegal transportation," echoing the same line Mayor Denis Coderre has used to describe the ride sharing service.

Cab drivers have accused drivers working for the American company of taking money out of their pockets. There is a limited number of taxi permits allowed in Montreal, which has made owning and operating a taxi in the city expensive.

Current permit holders often auction their medallions off for upwards of $200,000. There are 4,522 permits and 11,625 registered drivers in the city.

At the news conference on Thursday, Coderre said he felt an imperative to protect drivers and their families from unfair competition.

He also said Uber wasn't the main motivation behind the changes to the city's taxis.

"It's not about Uber. It's about what kind of taxis we want in the 21st century," Coderre said.

City staff say the cost of the new measures has been estimated, but wouldn't provide the figure. They're all expected to be implemented over the next two years.

Uber responds

Uber Canada responded to the city's announcement on Thursday by issuing a statement:

"We welcome any innovation that improves the quality of transportation options for Montrealers.

"As recently stated by a Canadian court, Uber is a new business model, distinct from traditional taxi services. We offer a convenient and efficient technology platform that connects users to safe, reliable and affordable rides.

"From Day One, we have asked for a dialogue on regulation for ride-sharing and we are very encouraged by the openness of Premier Couillard to embrace innovation. Seventy-five per cent of Montrealers support ride-sharing. the Mayor of Montreal, who is promoting a 'smart city,' should listen to his fellow citizens."