Montreal taxis hope to say 'Bonjour' to more clients through rebranding

Montreal’s taxis are set for a brand overhaul with a fresh, two-tone colour scheme saying “Bonjour” to their potential passengers.

New look to cost about $1,500 per vehicle and be voluntarily undertaken by taxi owners

The city says it doesn't plan to force taxi owners to change the look of their vehicles. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

Montreal's taxis are set for a brand overhaul with fresh, two-tone colour schemes that will brighten their image and say "Bonjour" to new clients.

The city unveiled this new effort to boost the struggling industry Sunday afternoon.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said it was part of a plan that the city and taxi industry had been collaborating on since 2014.

Coderre said the rebranding is just what the industry needs to keep up with its competition, and bring back clients from the app-based cab services Téo Taxi and Uber. 

"The branding is the signature," Coderre said of the industry.

He added that without decisive action, the industry's ridership would continue to plummet. 

"If you don't do anything, it's going to die," he said.  

Kamal Sabbah of the Montreal Taxi Owners Association hopes the new branding will be approached positively by owners. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

The new branding is not being imposed on taxi owners, so the city hopes they will embrace it on their own.

Kamal Sabbah of the Montreal Taxi Owners Association said he wants owners to see this as a positive step towards revitalizing their industry.  

"Let's have confidence in our industry and try to make things better," Sabbah said.

'We need money to do it'

Painting a car in line with the program is expected to cost about $1,500 and some owners say they don't have the money for it.

Wilson Jean Paul is a spokesperson for the taxi union RTAM-Métallos and says if owners weren't struggling financially, then having a uniform look to the city's taxis would be great.

"We live in a very hard time," he told CBC News. "We'd like to have beautiful cars, but we need the money to do it."

He said times were so hard for taxi owners that they were considering protest actions for this summer.

Last year, taxi owners took action against Uber by staging protests which congested major arteries in Montreal.

Jean Paul said if the city tries to impose this new branding on its taxis, that may become one of their grievances this summer.

New technology 

Coderre added that along with the new look of Montreal's taxis, there would also be new technology involving open data and geolocation which would help them to attract more clients through a better service.

Details of how this new technology would be implemented, or how it would impact passengers, has not yet been confirmed.

with files from CBC's Antoni Nerestant