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If you can afford to purchase carbon offset credits, perhaps you can keep your stretch limo on the road. Remind me again, how does this help air quality? Image: Boss Limousines
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Stretch limousines and Accessible Taxis safe for now in Net Zero Toronto

RWN/Taxi News publisher Rita Smith.

Stretch limousines and Accessible Taxis.

Stretch limos, and wheel-chair accessible Taxis.

Members of the world’s wealthiest one per cent racing to the airport, to board a private jet bound for Davos where the elite munch canapes and discuss climate change….and a disabled person scraping by on Ontario’s meager benefits, hoping not to miss a doctor’s appointment.

What could they possibly have in common?

The City of Toronto’s Net-Zero Working Group just sent an email to my mailbox, announcing that the Staff report on achieving Net Zero Emissions in Toronto will be at Economic and Community Development Committee on September 21, 2023. It is expected to be considered by City Council on October 11, 2023.

As any concerned citizen would, I immediately opened the link provided so I could read the Staff report. Of course, as the Editor of Taxi News, I am most concerned with how the proposed Net Zero initiatives will impact the Taxi industry. The electric vehicles required to deliver “net zero” tailpipe emissions in Toronto are expensive to buy and may well prove impossible to charge, maintain and repair. The grid required to charge this electric fleet does not exist, and even the most optimistic experts are reluctant to predict when or if it ever will.

However, if Toronto Council wants Taxis to be electric, there is nothing to prevent Toronto Council from decreeing all-electric Taxis. (Whether any private sector operators agree to purchase the electric vehicles and run them as Taxis is a completely different question. But I digress…)

Back at the Net Zero report, my eyes got stuck on Item #1, bullet “A:” “Provide an exemption for Stretch Limousines and Accessible Vehicles…”

“Stretch limos?” my brain scrambled to find the link between Stretch Limos and Accessible Taxis. One is an outright luxury, needed by no one, wanted by a few people who can afford to pay for anything they want, any time, any where. People to whom all options are open, always.

Accessible Taxis are an absolute necessity for persons with disabilities who have very few, if any, alternative options for transportation. Most of these people can barely afford the basics needed to keep body and soul together, on the best days; their options are not just limited, but often, non-existent.

It’s great that staff have acknowledged that any further disruption to Toronto’s tenuous Accessible Taxi program would be untenable. The disabled community which relies on the service is already suffering aging vehicles, metered rates and stressed-out drivers. I can see the logic. Good on staff for not piling on mandatory vehicle replacement.

But why are they even considering exempting Stretch Limos from any proposed age restriction? How is this even a thing?

Text from the Net Zero report.

Would a city committed to “Net Zero” even allow Stretch Limousines? Never mind the age, or even the length of the stretch.

“Stretch Limousines in a Net Zero city” is an oxymoron, like “honest politician” or “jumbo shrimp” or “deafening silence.”

When Toronto Council considers these recommendations on October 11 and gets to the part of the debate where they consider “Stretch Limousines in our Net Zero city,” perhaps one of the Councillors will grow a spine and suggest a city committed to Net Zero should not have stretch limos.

Of course, we question how a city committed to Net Zero could have approved exploding from 5,500 licensed Taxis in 2016  to 86,000 (EIGHTY-SIX THOUSAND) vehicles for hire in 2023.

It’s almost as if the term “Net Zero” meant nothing.

Or, that staff have misunderstood its meaning. Or, they know the idea of providing exemptions for stretch limos in a “Net Zero” city is completely nonsensical and hypocritical, and they don’t care.

What do you think?

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Tomorrow: Dan McTeague’s take on “Net Zero”