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Centennial College withdraws bid from Toronto’s driver training program: “it does not align with our approach”

Beck Taxi has required all of its new drivers to graduate Centennial College’s Taxi Driver Training program since 2016. Although Centennial has withdrawn its bid on the vehicle for hire training program, it continues to provide Accessible Driver training. Photo: Beck Taxi

Centennial College has withdrawn its bid to provide training to Toronto’s vehicle for hire drivers, Centennial’s Dean of Transportation Alan McLelland confirmed in an interview with Taxi News on April 8th.

Alan McLelland, Dean of Centennial College’s School of Transportation. Photo: Twitter

“It just doesn’t align with our approach to driver training and other areas, and would have been something brand new for us to move into. We’ve really got to prioritize where we put our time and energy moving forward,” said McLelland.

“Toronto put a lot of time and a lot of effort into establishing their requirements. And so, if our (bid) didn’t meet their requirements, that’s it.”

Centennial College began designing and delivering Taxi driver training in 2016, when Toronto Council voted to eliminate its own 17-day training program. Centennial’s School of Transportation worked closely with Beck Taxi and others to create a five day, in-class program that includes an in-car assessment before candidates can pass the program. Centennial also delivers Toronto’s Accessible driver training program.

“We decided not to pursue the submission further, I think for the most part, because I don’t think how we deliver driver training is probably in line with what is being looked at. We still do driver instructor training, and we really value the relationship that we have with the City of Toronto, doing the accessible vehicle operator training,” McLelland notes.

“The experts are out. 
That is really all anyone needs to know 
about Toronto’s training program: 
the training and educational experts will not bless 
a short online course with no in-car assessment.”

“The experts are out,” one industry observer told Taxi News. “That is really all anyone needs to know about Toronto’s training program: the training and educational experts will not bless a short online course with no in-car assessment.”

Staff at Toronto’s Licensing and Standards division told Taxi News in an email, “On April 5, 2022, Centennial College informed the City of their decision to withdraw their submission for consideration as they did not see this training aligning with their mission or mandate at this time.

“As directed by City Council, to be on the City of Toronto’s list of approved training programs for vehicle-for-hire drivers, third party training providers need to satisfy all mandatory criteria provided by the City and submit course content which clearly demonstrates how it will meet the curriculum criteria. A copy of the entire course content, including animations, illustration, video and text content, needs to be provided to the City for review, compliance and audit purposes.

Members of Toronto’s Taxi industry are expressing frustration with the delay in launching the training program; the identities and qualifications of the individuals who make up the Bid Committee and the specifics of the curriculum. In particular, members want to know if there will be any in-class or in-car component to allow instructors to confirm students’ skills in traffic, as opposed to in front of a computer screen.

“The City had requested course content which reflected the posted criteria from Centennial College. In March 2022, Centennial College provided their online and in-car course content, however the information provided did not clearly demonstrate how it met the curriculum criteria. The City requested additional information and provided direction on how to submit this information.”

Toronto Council voted on December 17, 2021 “to direct the Executive Director, MunicipalLicensing and Standards begin the driver training accreditation program as soon as possible.” Council made the same decision in July, 2019, but no program ever materialized. Two years later in October, 2021, after more than 60,000 untrained vehicle for hire drivers were allowed to begin working on city streets, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam introduced a motion which saw Toronto cease licensing all new drivers until the training program was launched.

Who is on the vehicle for hire driver training bid committee? 

Taxi News Question #2: Who is on the Bid Selection Committee? 
(I know they are Department staff; 
I am looking for actual names of Committee members). 

Toronto L&S Staff Answer #2: An expert panel with representatives from City divisions has been set up to review the applications for the 
Driver Training Accreditation Program. 
This panel is comprised of City staff from Transportation Services, Fleet Services, Municipal Licensing & Standards, and People & Equity. 
Experts bring years of education and experience to the panel and have specialised expertise on road safety, cycling safety and education, Vision Zero, fleet safety and compliance, vehicles-for-hire, and equity issues.

According to Centennial College’s website, its School of Transportation “is the largest on-site transportation training facility in Canada. Our faculty are among the most highly skilled in the industry, and the training equipment is state-of-the practice. Our automotive labs host the latest in technology for cars, trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles. We have a fully equipped hangar for our aerospace and avionics students.”

Its Taxi Driver training program notes that  “Taxi drivers must be comfortable and familiar with the surrounding area, know the best routes to common destinations or landmarks and enjoy working with a wide variety of people. The ability to remain calm while driving in heavy traffic is an asset; basic math skills and an understanding of car mechanics are also beneficial to a taxi driver.”

It covers City of Toronto and AODA rules; customer service; communication skills; map reading; geography; meter and tablet operation; and paperwork requirements.

Click here to view the curriculum criteria Toronto provided to bidders on the vehicle for hire training RFP