Taxi changes get green light from Halifax regional council
Changes like requiring all cabs to accept debit, credit cards to be prepared for public hearing
After nearly four hours of debate Tuesday, Halifax regional council approved all staff recommendations on changes to the municipality's taxi industry.
They include eliminating three separate zones that now exist, ensuring all cabs accept debit and credit cards, as well as making driver training and GPS in taxis mandatory.
The long list of amendments to the taxi bylaw will now be prepared for a public hearing and a final vote.
No mandatory cameras
Though there had previously been calls to make in-cab cameras mandatory, municipal staff argued the limited memory capacity of the camera systems would only give the public the illusion of safety. It would also be an added cost to taxi drivers, staff said.
Coun. David Hendsbee said he was in support of the cameras, noting they are on city buses.
The idea, however, was ultimately voted down.
More taxi licences
Council also defeated a motion to try to limit the number of new taxi licences. The staff report recommended increasing the number to 1,600 from 1,000.
Coun. Steve Adams at first tried to limit the increase to 50 before agreeing to 300.
"Let's not dump 600 downtown because that's where they are going to end up," said Adams. "Let's take this one step at a time."
But the municipal official in charge of taxi licensing insisted the smaller number of licences would not improve service and could hinder efforts to get more female drivers into the industry.
"There are not enough cars, we know there's a supply issue," said Sally Christie. "And the only way to address that is to increase the limitations."
Uber and Lyft interested in Halifax
Regional council also agreed to a followup study of so-called ride-hailing operations such as Uber and Lyft.
"Has Uber contacted us? Yes, indeed they have. They are very anxious to come into the Maritimes," explained Christie.
A recommendation to ask the province for the power to give business grants to drivers who operate accessible cabs was also approved.