Public Accessible Taxicab Transportation Servicing
May 5, 2019
This is indeed, one of the most contentious issues facing the Province and municipalities throughout Ontario. To begin with, there must be some basic understanding as to what are the parameters in necessitating public accessible taxicab transportation servicing.
The physically disabled, cognitively and sight impaired communities are taxpayers and part of their tax dollars like every other taxpayer goes towards public transportation costs, therefore making it mandatory that these communities have access to public transportation. Since the Province has mandated that taxicabs are to be involved in this servicing through municipalities, this now becomes a public transportation initiative and the financial responsibility to provide it, is on the municipalities.
This responsibility was enacted in Regulation 191/11 Sections 78 (4) and 79 (3), but the municipalities put the financial burden onto the shoulders of the taxicab industry membership since the inception of the program and effective on June 25, 2016 permanently erased all Ontario municipalities financial responsibilities, by revoking 191/11 78 (4) and 79 (3) In Regulation 165/16, which is legally questionable.
Vehicles-for-Hire Fleet – As of April 1, 2019
I believe it is important to begin this report by showing the numbers involved and how they relate to public accessible taxicab transportation. As you will see when reading the report, there is not only confusion as to how this service applies, but it shows a lot more negativity including violations and conflicts of the governing by-law and senior statutes that will become more evident as you read on.
Standard Taxicab Licences
There are currently 4,625 of these licences, which include sedans, regular vans and 104 wheelchair accessible vans (“104”) that according to the Municipal Licensing and Standards (“ML&S”) for the purpose of the City of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 546, Licensing, Vehicle-for-Hire Section 546-53, are not considered an accessible taxicab, even though they are wheelchair accessible taxicab vans.
The categorization of the 104 not being considered an accessible taxicab under any scenario, lacks common sense. By not including them, it gives them special dispensations that other Toronto Taxi Licence (“TTL”) owners/operators do not have, which violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Equality Rights. Presently, there are 456 standard licences sitting on the shelves at the ML&S.
Ambassador Taxicab Licence
There were 1,400 of these licences issued, which include sedans, regular vans and in time accessible wheelchair vans as well, which were issued between 1999 and June 1, 2005. This category no longer exists with the enactment of the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 546, Licensing, Vehicles-for-Hire on July 15, 2016, as they were all transferred into the Standard taxicab licence category with all of the rights and privileges associated with it.
Wheel Trans Licence (“W”)
There were 104 of these licences issued all wheelchair accessible vans, between December 21, 2000 and September 9, 2008, including about 79 of those licences going to individual taxicab industry members and the remaining 25 went to licensed taxicab brokerages. As of March 29, 2019, all of the individual “W” licence owners/operators have transferred their licences to a Toronto Taxi Licence and only 10 of the original taxicab brokerage “W” licences are still in service.
Toronto Taxicab Licence
There are 579 of these licences all wheelchair accessible vans, of which 391 were issued by the City and the other 188 came from the sales or transfers of “W”, Ambassador or Standard licences between July 1, 2014 to March 29, 2019, with currently 34 TTL’s sitting on the shelf at the ML&S offices.
Percentage Totals of Accessible Vans to Taxicab Fleet
Considering the 4,625 standard licences, which consists of sedans, regular vans and accessible vans and then include the 579 Toronto taxicab licences, which are exclusively wheelchair accessible vans, you have a taxicab fleet numbering 5,204.
Out of this fleet size, 683 are wheelchair accessible vans, which shows that 13.124% of the entire fleet are wheelchair accessible vans, which is over double of what was recommended on Page #7 of the 2013 Taxi Research Partners report headed by Dr. Cooper and commissioned by the City.
Toronto Limousine Licence
There were 584 of these licences issued and there are no wheelchair accessible vans in this fleet.
Private Transportation Company Licence – i.e. Uber and Lyft
As of April 1, 2019, there have been 82,784 of these licences issued and that number is growing exponentially on a daily basis, which 35 are wheelchair accessible vans. This works out to 0.042% of their fleet being wheelchair accessible vans.
Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto – 1954 to 1998
The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto was an upper-tier level of municipal government formed in 1954 and was active through 1998. It was comprised of the old City of Toronto, numerous townships, towns and villages that surrounded Toronto, which were starting to urbanise rapidly after World War II. In forming the new government, there was of course the responsibility to provide a network of public transportation, but in the initial forming of those required public transportation systems, the Municipality did not address the requirements of the physically disabled community.
To address public transportation service to the physically disabled community, the para-transit system was created in 1975 as a two-year pilot project contracted to Wheelchair Mobile and operated on behalf of Metropolitan Toronto and the Province of Ontario. Only individuals using wheelchairs were accepted, which included 46 users for this pilot project, who rode the system at no cost.
In 1977, the service was contracted to All-Way Transportation Corporation of Toronto, before the TTC appropriated All-Way Transportation Corporation of Toronto in 1985 and re-named the division as Wheel Trans when it was completely taken over in 1989. In 1989, demand for accessible servicing was beginning to rise and the City, partially because of the costs involved I am sure, decided to contract some of the service requirements out to the City’s taxicab industry.
In 1998, the final touches were being put in place to do away with the borough system that made up the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and replace it with a unified government that will be called the City of Toronto. As it turns out, the Toronto taxicab industry in 1998, was conducting reformation meetings to overhaul the industry and part of what came from those meetings was to add sections to the governing by-laws covering accessible vehicle servicing.
City of Toronto – 1999 to Present
On January 1, 1999, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto was replaced by the City of Toronto. On August 3, 2000, City Council adopted By-Law No. 574-2000, which in part included the rules and regulations surrounding accessible taxicabs, which included the involvement of taxicab brokerages, taxicab owners and taxicab drivers.
In addition, it was adopted and enacted that the existing standard licence issuance program would be concluded and two new licensing categories were enacted, with one of them being a taxicab wheel trans licence or as previously stated, it became better known as, the “W” licence, which was dedicated exclusively to service the TTC wheel trans program. The other license was the Ambassador licence, which was issued exclusively to licensed City taxicab drivers and who in part, would also become part of the TTC wheel trans program.
Politicians and Bureaucrats Contacted
• City of Toronto Mayor’s office;
• All 25 City Councillors; and
• All senior staff at the City’s ML&S.
Province of Ontario
The governing laws for accessibility in Ontario are contained in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) and municipalities responsibilities for public accessible taxicab transportation servicing are contained in Regulation 191/11, Integrated Accessibility Standards, Duties of Municipalities and taxicabs, Duties of Municipalities, Accessible Taxicabs, Section (79). Below shows who was responsible to provide this service and counters Toronto’s claim that it was not their responsibility.
“Regulation 191/11 – Section #79 (3)
Municipalities shall meet the requirement of this section by January 1, 2013.”
With the number of letters I had written on this issue being a municipal responsibility for over a decade now, I believe it became obvious to both the previous Liberal government at Queen’s Park and the City of Toronto government, that I was not going to leave sleeping dogs lay, so it appears these governments conspired and came up with a nefarious plan, which was to enact Regulation 165/16 that came into effect on June 25, 2016 and contains several changes to Regulation 191/11 including revoking many sections within the Regulation, to including sections 78 (4) and 79 (3).
“Ontario Regulation 165/16 made under the Disabilities for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Point #13. The following provisions of the Regulation are revoked:
16. Subsection 78 (4) and 17. Subsection 79 (3).”
This absolves a municipality from meeting the requirement for accessible taxicab servicing and this change can be done by a Minister of Premier, without it ever seeing the floor at Queen’s Park and was done without having even one major stakeholder’s meeting with the people this affects the most, the taxicab industry membership, proving how untrustworthy our governments can be.
This to the owner/operator of a wheelchair accessible van, leaves the responsibility to purchase and maintain your vehicle on your shoulders and there will not be any financial assistance coming from the municipality even though the Province, in its infinite wisdom, has still left the mandate that there must be accessible taxicabs available to service the disabled community.
All of the supportive government information I received over the years, which proved my points on this issue are no longer in effect and as usual, both the municipal and provincial governments have reneged on their financial responsibilities in this area and have passed those responsibilities on to the taxicab industry memberships.
As you will see further on in this report, if you are one of the 330 wheelchair accessible vans that belong to taxicab brokerages who are contracted by the TTC to serve their wheel trans program, your expenses and fares are susidized and you will be able to earn a living.
If you are one of the 353 remaining wheelchair accessible vans that are not servicing the TTC wheel trans contract and are available to service the disabled community as part of the mandate of Regulation 191/11 section (79), you will not have the opportunity to earn a living and that is easily proven with 34 of these licences presently sitting on the ML&S shelves that will eventually increase in numbers and include most of these 353 wheelchair owners/operators.
The only alternatives available to these 353 owners/operators, is to refuse the licence unless you are going to be subsidized as the 330 owners/operators involved in the TTC wheel trans program are and if some sort of financial help is not forthcoming to you, turn in the licences and let the City take the responsibility of violating Regulation 191/11 Section 79. (1) & (2).
• Premier of Ontario;
• Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility;
• Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing;
• Ministry of Transportation; and
• Ministry of the Attorney General.
When you have completed reading this entire report, there will be one point that will become very evident, which is not all categories or persons involved in public accessible taxicab transportation servicing are being treated equally or fairly.
Consider the Following
“Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Being Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law, without discrimination.”
“W” Taxicab Licence
The total of 104 “W” taxicab licences were issued from between December 21, 2000 and September 9, 2008 although there does not appear to be records for plate numbers “W”40, “W”42. “W”47 or “W”94 being issued, so it appears there were only 100 “W” licences ever activated and put into service.
In the very beginning of the program, it is my understanding, the TTC did subsidize part of the purchase price of the required wheelchair accessible van, but that did not last very long and in short order, the total cost of purchasing and maintaining the vehicle fell on the shoulders of the accessible van owner/operator.
The following conditions had to be met
• Restricted vehicle access;
• Vehicle must be a City approved wheelchair accessible van;
• Wheelchair accessible vans can only be side-loading. i.e. This appears to be a rather strange request, seeing as TTC accessible vans are both side and rear loading and use both entrances to load and unload passengers;
• Must belong to a licensed City taxicab brokerage who has been contracted by the TTC to service their wheel trans program;
• Is only allowed to service the TTC wheel trans program;
• Must be owner driven without any other driver allowed;
• Work 12-hour days;
• Cost of the fare subsidized by the TTC; and
• Purchase price of accessible van and ongoing business expenses. not subsidized.
The ML&S could not get enough independent owner/operators to become involved in the program, so there were “W” licences issued to taxicab brokerages as well, who must be under contract by the TTC. This appeared to work well, until the taxicab reformation of 2011 began.
During this reformation, there were a lot of complaints from the Ambassador licence owners about not being able to have a driver or could not sell their licence as a standard licence owner could.
So, it was decided that the new by-law, which was enacted on July 15, 2016, would allow them to become standard licence owners with all of the same privileges, without paying a transfer fee.
The “W” licence owners of course wanted the same rights, so the ML&S came up with another idea for this group. Instead of them having the same rights under a Standard licence, they would allow them to transfer their licence into a new category formed in 2014 called a TTL, which were all wheelchair accessible vans as they are and give them the right to have drivers and to sell their licence with a wheelchair accessible van only, but they had to pay a $4,441.21 transfer fee.
The “W” licence owners complained that since the Ambassador licence owners did not have to pay any transfer fees for their licences to be made Standard taxicab licences, why should they? The then Executive Director of the ML&S Ms. Tracey Cook stated, that the “W” transfer fee was an error, but it went through anyway and was never rebated to the 79 individual “W” plate owners.
All of the 79 original “W” plate owners have transferred their licence to TTL’s, with the last one occurring on March 29, 2019. 10 company “W” licences are still in operation, but when these company ”W” licences cease to service the TTC wheel trans program, they cannot be transferred or sold and must be returned to the City.
This licensing category began in 1999 and concluded on June 1, 2005 with 1,400 licences being issued. It came on the urging of the now retired Councillor Howard Moscoe, who City Hall considered was the guru of the taxicab industry, because his father was involved in the industry in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Howard was a long-time member and eventual Chair of the now defunct Licensing and Standards Committee, which has been replaced by the General Government and Licensing Committee. He was heavily lobbied by Toronto taxicab drivers complaining that they could not get a City Standard taxicab licence issued to them, because some of the issued licences always went to standard licence holders.
He decided to appease the drivers, by having the City do away with the existing Standard licensing program and replace it with a new taxicab licence called an Ambassador licence, which would be issued only to taxicab drivers, not taxicab owners.
Councillor Moscoe was a prototypical politician who would rarely think about the eventual consequences of his actions and as Howard admitted to me 2-3 years after this program started and most recently just a few years ago after he retired, it was a huge mistake because there wasn’t enough available business to support this licensing issuance, which he was warned would happen by myself and numerous other taxicab industry members.
The original plan was to issue about 700 Ambassador licences, but Howard in his infinite wisdom thought since a taxicab owner or driver under by-law mandate is only allowed to work 12-hours in any 24-hour period, there should be 1,400 Ambassador licences issued instead of the original recommended 700, which eventually came to fruition.
The following conditions must be met
• Restricted vehicle access;
• Must be owner/operator, no other driver allowed;
• Operate only a by-law approved sedan, regular van or accessible van; and
• Abide by all other by-law sections surrounding an Ambassador licence.
With Councillor Moscoe eventually realizing this program was a mistake as the Ambassador owner/operator could not make a living, he started searching for ways to help them make a reasonable living to support themselves, their families and their business responsibilities.
He first approached the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (“GTAA”) to have just Ambassador licence owners, not Standard licence owners be given access to Pearson International Airport to service their clientele without the need of paying a license or pick-up fee, but the GTAA denied that request.
The Councillor then decided that he would give them access to the TTC wheel trans program, but not to Standard licence holders and in the end, Ambassador licenced owner/operators who changed their vehicles to wheelchair accessible vans and who joined TTC contracted taxicab brokerages, could service the TTC contract and in doing so, must follow most of the rules of the “W” plate owners involved in the TTC contract, as outlined earlier in this report.
The Ambassador taxicab licence category ceased to exist when the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 546, Licensing, Vehicles-for-Hire came into effect on July 15, 2016, as they became Standard licences. Standard taxicab licence owners can operate a sedan, regular van or a wheelchair accessible van, but the wheelchair accessible van owners in the Standard taxicab licence program, are not considered an accessible taxicab for the purpose of this by-law.
That distinction is held by the TTL and since this is the case, the 104 Standard licence holders that operate a wheelchair accessible van, unlike a TTL owner, can transfer or sell their licence either with a sedan taxicab or a wheelchair accessible van and can operate a wheelchair accessible van outside of a taxicab brokerage.
Standard Taxicab Licence
During the days of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, there were 3,480 Standard taxicab licences issued with the last one issued on April 24, 1998.This category began to supply accessible vans to service the TTC wheel trans program in 1989.
Some interesting points arose from my investigation into this category. When you consider there were 3,480 Standard licences and 1,400 Ambassador licences issued, which are now all Standard licences, there should be 4,880 Standard licences.
According to the ML&S records, there are currently 4,625 Standard licences, so I am wondering what has happened to the 255 Standard licences that are missing from the original licensing issuances?
With 456 Standard taxicab licences and 34 accessible taxicab van licences that make up 9.41% of the City’s entire taxicab fleet sitting on the shelf at the ML&S offices as of April 1, 2019, that could and should be on the streets available for service for all consumers including the disabled communities, can there be any dispute that the City has no clear vision on how to legislate or regulate their taxicab industry that is leading to this industry being eradicated?
Currently, there are 584 limousines licensed in Toronto without one accessible vehicle available for service. Considering that every other category mentioned in Chapter 546 is mandated to supply accessible transportation, why isn’t this licensing category mandated to do likewise?
Private Transportation Company Licence – i.e. – Uber and Lyft
“Toronto Municipal Code – Chapter 546 – Licensing – Vehicles-for-Hire
Article 10 – Private Transportation Companies
546-119 Accessible vehicle service to be offered by PTC’s
A. Any PTC with more than 500 PTC drivers licensed by ML&S shall provide wheelchair accessible service to the public.”
Comparing the PTC accessible service requirement to the taxicabs, excluding limousines who do not, but should provide accessible transportation, because they all provide vehicles-for-hire services and are governed by the same by-law, Chapter 546 does not contain any acceptable level of proportionality or fairness.
• Taxicabs – Fleet 5,204 – Accessible Wheelchair Vans 683 – Fleet Percentage – 13.124%;
• PTC’s – Fleet 82,784 – Accessible Wheelchair Vans 35 – Fleet Percentage – 0.042%; and
• Limousines – Fleet 584 – Accessible Wheelchair Vans 0 – Fleet Percentage – 0%.
This category also comes under the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 441, Fees and Charges. Appendix “C”, Schedule 12, Municipal Licensing and Standards, which contains one of the following required licensing fees.
“Reference Number – 441 – PTC Trip Fee – Full Cost Recovery – Trip – $0.30 “
The revenues generated from this licensing fee and collected by the City are as follows
• 2016 - $ 2,192,036;
• 2017 - $ 8,472,702; and
• 2018 - $13,365,377.
The City was initially contemplating using this licensing fee to help financially support the costs of providing public accessible taxicab transportation services, but unfortunately in the end, these funds ended up earmarked for other licensing matters and enforcement.
Unlicensed Private Transportation Companies
If you take the time to check both in the telephone book yellow pages or on-line, you will find numerous unlicensed private companies providing accessible transportation services.
These companies feel they do not require to be municipally licensed, due to an exemption in the Ontario Public Vehicles Act.
“Ontario Public Vehicles Act (“PVA”) – Current to March 26, 2019
Operating Licence Required
2. (1) Despite the provisions of any Private Act, no person shall operate a public vehicle:
(a) except under an operating license, or
(b) in contraventions of the terms and conditions of the operating licence. R.S.O. 1990, c. P54, s. 2 (1)
2. (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person transporting only passengers with mobility disabilities in a public vehicle that is specifically equipped with a lift or ramp mechanism for the boarding of passengers with mobility disabilities. 2016 c, 5, Sched. 25 s. 2.”
According to the Ontario Highway Transport Board (“OHTB”) who regulates and enforces the PVA, just because the Province doesn’t require a provincial business license to operate an accessible vehicle, it does not preclude Toronto or any other Ontario municipality from requiring a municipal business license if operating in their jurisdictions. The City was notified years ago about this, but never took action on this most serious issue.
By not requiring these companies to be municipally licensed, the clientele that uses these services has no guarantee as to what the cost of the trip will be, as is required in most municipalities and they are left without any element of public safety.
Greater Toronto Airport Authority Licence (“GTAA”)
GTAA sedans and limousines have, through a provincial exemption, the legal right to pick up fares in the City and in every other municipality surrounding any Ontario airport, going back to those airports without the necessity of having any particular municipal business licence.
GTAA Taxicab and Limousine Fleets
• Combined fleet size, 634 vehicles;
• Consisting of 358 taxicabs with 50 being wheelchair accessible vans; and
• 276 limousines with 6 being wheelchair accessible vans.
Toronto Taxicab Licence
With the Province mandating public accessible taxicab transportation servicing in Regulation 191/11 being part of the AODA, the City on recommendations from a 2013 City commissioned report from Taxi Research Partners, named, Determining the Appropriate Number of Taxicabs and its Impacts for the City, used part of the report’s recommendations, to make the entire taxicab industry wheelchair accessible vans, not by 2022 as recommended for other categories, but 2024.
Believing their plan would not be challenged, the City during the period from 2014, through March 29, 2019, issued 390 TTL’s and a further 189 that came from sales and transfers of “W”, Standard and Ambassador licences totalling 579, which finally concluded on March 29, 2019. If you couple the 579 TTL’s with the 104 Standard licences that are wheelchair accessible vans, you now have 683 accessible vehicles available to service the disabled community.
The taxicab industry knew if the City was successful in making all taxicabs wheelchair accessible, it would for all intent and purpose put an end to the industry as it is today and destroy over 60 years that was put into building the industry, which included having the capability to use their licences as their pensions, as the City promised.
The taxicab industry challenged the decision to make all taxicabs wheelchair accessible vehicles in court. On January 30, 2015, Justice Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, quashed the City’s plans to make all City taxicabs wheelchair accessible vehicles by 2024.
The City acted in bad faith by not explaining to the TTL recipients, all of the parameters involved in taking this licence from the cost of purchasing, equipping and maintaining a wheelchair accessible van to whether the licenced owners/operators could even make a living.
Estimated Costs to Purchase and Maintain a TTL
• $55,000 to $65,000 purchase and equip a wheelchair accessible van;
• $10,000 annual insurance rate;
• $10,000 annual replacement cost to purchase a vehicle every 7 years;
• $4,000 annual repair costs;
• Annual fuel costs (Gas) Approx. $15,000 and (Propane) Approx. $12,000; and
• No government subsidies to purchase or maintain the accessible van.
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) – Wheel Trans Program – Taxicab Division
TTC Wheel Trans Taxicab Accessible Van Program
In 1989, accessible taxicab service started to provide service under the wheel trans program. Prior to this, service was provided by buses and privately owned station wagons. The taxicab accessible van service came about through tenders submitted by Toronto taxicab brokerages, with the current tenders being awarded by the TTC Board to the following 4 taxicab brokerages on January 28, 2014. Below are listed the number of independent owners/operators, who have wheelchair accessible vans working out of the 4 contracted companies.
Co-Op Taxi – 92 Royal Taxi – 71 Checker Taxi – 92
Scarborough City Cab – 75
If you are an owner of a TTL or a Standard taxicab operating a wheelchair accessible van and you wish to service the TTC wheel trans contract, you must work in a taxicab brokerage that has part of the TTC wheel trans contract and if you are accepted to join and service the contract:
Consider the following
• The wheelchair accessible van must be side entry only;
• Vehicle purchasing price and operating costs not government subsidized;
• The fare is government subsidized;
• Consumer pays regular TTC fare for door-to-door servicing;
• Driver guaranteed so many km for each working day;
• Present rate paid is $3.03 per km;
• Guaranteed annual increases per km;
• No taxicab brokerage fees;
• No taxicab brokerage cash-in fees; and
• Average annual gross earnings, $95,000 to $125,000.
Note: Under this scenario, as a TTL or Standard taxicab owner/operator driving a wheelchair accessible van exclusively servicing the TTC contract, you will have an opportunity to earn a livable wage that enables you to support yourself, your family and meet your business obligations.
If you are an owner/operator of a TTL, you must work in a taxicab brokerage where a Standard taxicab owner/operator operating a wheelchair accessible van does not. If the taxicab brokerage does not have part of the wheel trans contract and addresses only the taxicab brokerage on- demand portion of the public accessible taxicab transportation mandate, or if you belong to a taxicab brokerage that has a TTC contract, but denies you access to it:
Consider the Following
• The wheelchair accessible van can be either side or rear loading;
• Vehicle purchasing price and operating costs not government subsidized;
• The fare is not government subsidized;
• Consumer pays full taxicab meter rate;
• Driver has no guarantee of so many km for each working day;
• Present rate paid is $1.74 per km;
• No guaranteed annual increases per km;
• There has not been a taxicab meter increase for nearly a decade;
• You will pay taxicab brokerage fees;
• You will pay taxicab brokerage cash-in fees; and
• Average annual gross earnings, $45,000 to $55,000.
Note: Under this scenario, as a TTL or Standard taxicab operating a wheelchair accessible van not servicing the TTC contract and even though you are legally allowed to service all taxicab clientele, you will not have an opportunity to earn enough money to support yourself, your family or your business obligations and responsibilities.
TTC Wheel Trans Taxicab Sedan Program
In 1990, regular sedan taxicabs started to be utilized to provide service under the wheel trans program. This taxicab service came about through tenders as well, being submitted by Toronto taxicab brokerages, with the current tenders being awarded by the TTC Board to the following 2 taxicab brokerages on May 28, 2014 and who have the number of sedans as listed bel.
• Beck Taxi – 1,909 taxicabs; and
• Co-Op Taxi – 635 taxicabs.
If you are involved in the sedan servicing portion on the TTC wheel trans program, you must belong to a taxicab brokerage who has part of the TTC contract:
Consider the following
• A City taxicab is restricted as to what sedan is allowed;
• Vehicle purchase and operating costs are not government subsidized;
• The fare is government subsidized;
• Consumer pays regular TTC fare for door-to-door servicing;
• No guarantee of how many km per day you will receive;
• Present meter rate $1.74 per km;
• There has not been a meter increase for almost a decade;
• You will pay monthly taxicab brokerage fees;
• You will pay monthly cash-in fees; and
• Annual gross earnings on average, $45,000 to $60,000.
Note: If you work as a sedan owner/operator/driver in one of the two contracted taxicab brokerages who have part of the TTC wheel trans sedan contract, which includes having the ability to service other taxicab customers as well, you may earn enough money to support yourself, your family and meet your business obligations.
A number of travesties have emerged from government becoming involved and eventually mandating public accessible taxicab transportation servicing. The first one that stands out to me, involves the lack of any major stakeholders’ meetings with the Toronto taxicab industry membership or any other Ontario taxicab industry membership to my knowledge.
The economic impact on the Province’s taxicab industry turned out to be harsh and the fact that it was a municipal mandate to provide the service, all of these facts should have been brought forward to all Ontario taxicab industry members prior to the enactment of the statute.
With it being a public transportation initiative mandated by the Province, the financial municipal mandate to meet the requirement of the service should have been left in place 191/11 79 (3), to ensure the costs involved are not shouldered by the independent taxicab industry’s owners/operators, which is guaranteed in the Transportation Standards under the Act.
But the municipalities never did live up to their financial obligations, so other than the odd municipality assisting in the initial purchase cost of the vehicle, which did not include Toronto by the way, they have not met most of what their financial responsibilities were. Perhaps, the municipalities should be seeking financial assistance from the Province, since this is their mandate to provide the service and it should come with some Provincial funding as well.
The cost of the pre-booked fare has always been subsidized by the TTC, but the purchase cost of the accessible van or the ongoing costs to maintain incurred by the taxicab owners/operators aren’t subsidized. This shows the City abides by part of the mandate of Regulation 191/11 Section 79 in supplementing the fare costs, but disregards the other part by not subsidizing the vehicle operational costs.
If you are registered as a client of the TTC wheel trans service, which is a pre-booked service, your fare is subsidized by the TTC, with the only cost to you being a regular TTC fare for door- to-door servicing, but the provincial Regulation 191/11 Section 79, which is, for the most part, an on-demand taxicab brokerage service, does not include a subsidized fare program.
So, the issue here is if a member of these communities are entitled to this public accessible taxicab transportation servicing in Toronto, which both programs are serviced by accessible taxicabs, with one being pre-booked and the other being on-demand, why is the pre-booked fare subsidized and the on-demand fare is not, seeing as they are both mandated public accessible taxicab transportation government services?
Another of the travesties outside of not supporting the taxicab owners/operators in purchasing and financially assisting in operating their vehicles on an on-going basis, is how the owners/operators are compensated for their services to these communities.
If you are servicing the pre-booked TTC wheel trans clientele, you are paid substantially more than the accessible taxicabs that are servicing the on-demand clientele, yet the vehicles they are required to have are the same and the customers they service are all from the same communities, with many of them being TTC wheel trans customers.
It was brought to my attention, that during the most recent taxicab phase meetings that deputations were given by a member of the disabled community and a member of a management team from a Toronto taxicab brokerage complaining there are not enough TTL’s in service. My investigation into this subject matter showed the exact opposite.
There are 330 City accessible taxicabs that work in the pre-booked TTC wheel trans programs and 353 accessible taxicabs that work in taxicab brokerages servicing the on-demand portion of this mandated transportation requirement. With a great many of the disabled community living on either fixed incomes or social assistance, they can ill-afford to pay a full taxicab meter rate, leaving the 353 accessible taxicabs that service the on-demand program with a very sparse disabled community customer base, therefore leaving them underutilized.
When you consider that 34 of the TTL wheelchair accessible van licences are presently sitting on the shelves at the ML&S offices and even though the 353 on-demand TTL’s have the right to pick up regular fares as well, it should be more than obvious, that the City has over-stocked itself with wheelchair accessible vans, leaving many of the TTL owners/operators doing the on- demand servicing, without the ability to make a living under the present City by-laws.
I have no doubt that the City will attempt to counter this report by saying they are addressing what the public wants, but that is not entirely true nor does what the public want, always transfer to the right thing to do.
When you total the number of licensed vehicles-for-hire that operate in Toronto, which presently adds up to just under 90,000 including 739 accessible vans and a few hundred sedans that service the disabled communities as well, but does not include unlicensed carriers and their wheelchair accessible vehicles, you will find that this comes into conflict with many other issues the City faces on a daily basis.
Consider the following
• Downtown traffic congestion;
• Excessive green gas emissions;
• Serious public safety concerns; and
• Lack of staff and resources to provide any acceptable level of by-law enforcement.
The first three of these points are clear violations of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (COTA)
“City of Toronto Act (2006) – Part II – General Powers of the City – Powers – Broad Authority
City By-laws – 8 (2) – The City may pass by-laws respecting the following matters:
• 5) Economic, social and environmental well-being of the City, including respecting climate change;
• 6) Health, safety and well-being of persons; and
• 8) Protection of persons and property, including consumer protection.”
Below are listed 6 of the more serious issues this report points out
• The 88,572 City licensed vehicles-for-hire, are approximately 20 times more than are required. A responsible per-capita licensing issuing formula for a large urban center like Toronto, should be approximately 1 per 850, where this number is 1 per 31.
• The taxicab fleet has 5,204 vehicles and when you apply the 1 per 850 licensing issuing formula, it works out to 1 per 524, which is already well below a responsible issuing formula, even before you add the PTC fleet consisting of 82,784
• With a fleet of 5,204 consisting of 683 wheelchair accessible vans and 4,521 sedans available to service the disabled communities, they are being underutilized;
• This number of licensed vehicles-for-hire raises a number of concerns and conflicts with other serious City issues i.e. downtown traffic congestion, environmental concerns, global warming, public health and safety, protection of persons and property, and consumer protection, just to name a few;
• The City cannot provide an acceptable level of by-law enforcement, due to the lack of resources, manpower and investigative powers; and
• It has the appearance that public safety and a 60 year plus industry that provides full time jobs are being disregarded in favour of PTC’s, who provide only part time jobs, limited public safety, but lines the City coffers with a hefty increase in licensing revenues.
There is no doubt, the City’s actions showed they did violate their provincially given licensing powers in the area of public accessible taxicab transportation servicing, but in reality, includes the entire taxicab industry. As a result, they have exposed a clear lack of intelligence, common sense or the ability to competently legislate or regulate this industry, which can no longer be tolerated by the industry’s membership or the public they service.
With dumping their responsibilities surrounding public accessible taxicab transportation servicing onto the shoulders of the taxicab industry, the level of service to the disabled and cognitively impaired communities, will continue to fall because of being underutilized and in certain areas not enough business to financially sustain it.
There are viable solutions to all of the problems associated with this service that in the end, would benefit all concerned, but that discussion is for another day.
Gerald H. Manley
105 Rowena Dr. Suite 405
Canada, M3A 1R2
Toronto Taxi Owner – Licence Number 416