Montreal wants more control over taxi industry once province implements reforms

In this file photo, a Montreal taxi driver with his car painted with a new logo, at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport in Montreal. Hearings into Bill 17 to overhaul the taxi industry are ongoing in Quebec City. Monday, May 6, 2017. File

The City of Montreal wants to maintain some control over the taxi industry after Quebec implements its reforms.

“Everybody knows we have a really complex mobility ecosystem in Montreal,” said Sophie Mauzerolle, president of the Montreal taxi bureau.

“There’s a lot of metro stations, we have a lot of buses, we have a lot of bicycles in the city, so it’s really important for us to have a certain control over what ‘s going on,” Mauzerolle told Global News.

Mauzerolle made the comments before heading off to Quebec City to present Montreal’s position at the ongoing hearings into Bill 17.

READ MORE: Taxi drivers stage protests, take concerns over Bill 17 to province’s transport minister

While city officials agree the taxi industry needs to modernize, they have concerns about the Coalition Avenir Québec’s proposed legislation.

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“We wouldn’t have the opportunity, the flexibility to answer to issues that could arise,” Mauzerolle said.

If the proposed bill is passed into law, the taxi bureau would disappear.

“We would lose control over the taxi industry, which is 21 million passages every year in the City of Montreal,” Mauzerolle said. “It’s a big business and we want to make sure we have control over this and over the other players, like Uber.”

For Mauzerolle, it’s a question of ensuring a level playing field between taxi drivers and other ride-sharing services.

“We have people in the taxi industry who have worked really hard in the past year to modernize their industry,” she said. “They’ve been playing by rules that have been imposed on them, so we don’t want them to suffer the consequences of this law.”

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Mauzerolle contends that to be equitable, the city needs to be able collect data.

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“We need to collect data, we need to know where are the cars, how many passengers are in the cars, how much are the fees, to make sure that we know what is going on in our territory,” she said.

With the new bill, the city would have less oversight when it comes to training and setting standards.

The bureau makes sure that drivers can speak French, keeps track of how old the cars are and makes sure fares are uniform across the island.

READ MORE: Montreal taxi drivers say they need to save their industry from extinction

Mauzerolle fears the proposed legislation would affect the quality of services.

“We want to make sure that people in Pointe-aux-Trembles are able to have a service and that they don’t pay four times the cost.” she said.

Mauzerolle  also expressed concerned over the future of adapted transport in the city.

“We want to make sure that the most vulnerable people have a service,” she said, explaining that 90 per cent of adapted transport was provided for by taxis.

“We want to make sure that these people still have access to those services that are really excellent, that are good quality and actually cheaper than in a lot of cities in North America.”

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The city now has to await the outcome of the ongoing hearings before it can plan its next steps.

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