Monday, July 15, 2024
Image: City of Toronto June 24 Vehicle for Hire consultation Webex
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Toronto considers seizing inactive Taxi plates

“Lack of availability of Taxi cab plates” cited as reason for proposal despite flood of VFHs

(Click the white arrow at left to view video) Toronto staff explain the rationale behind the proposal to seize inactive Taxi plates. Video: Taxi News

In an oblique question possibly designed to build support for seizure of inactive Taxi plates, the June 24th stakeholder consultation suggested inactive plates could be stripped from their legal owners and given to a driver waiting on a list.

“The rationale behind proposing this is that we’d be providing another year grace period for owners to decide on whether to cancel or begin operating again,” Licensing and Standards policy adviser Josh Cho said in his description of the proposal.

“This, essentially, is to help balance the needs of Taxi cab owners and also the demand for on-demand Taxi cab service; and then also, providing opportunities to those who want to be providing Taxi cab service but cannot, due to a lack of availability of Taxi cab plates.”

The idea that there is any lack of availability of Taxi cab plates in Toronto mystified participants on the call, including “Taxi widows,” women who inherited plates from their driver husbands with the the belief they could lease them out to drivers in the years after their husbands’ deaths. These women are now left with plates which no one wants to lease.

“Who are all these drivers who want to drive plates but can’t get them?” one woman asked staff. She did not receive any answer.

The verbal discussion outlined the concept of giving plate owners only “one more year” to begin driving the plate or face having it seized by the City and re-distributed to “one of 300 drivers we have waiting on a list who want a plate to drive” as explained by staff. However, the text survey question displayed for the online group asked “Would you support the City’s proposal to allow taxicab owners to keep their taxis inactive for one more year?”

“Wait a minute – is this is a trick question?” asked Abdul Mohamoud, CEO of Co-op Cabs.

“The city issued the plates; people bought them on the open market; the city devalued them by flooding the market; and now the city moves on cancelling the plates. I think you need to consider of the legal consequences of that,” Mahamoud said.

“The issue at hand, again, the elephant in the room, is the oversupply of vehicles.”

A total of 45 attendees were on the Webex teleconference June 24th, less than half the 103 persons who took part in the first virtual consultation. The 1:30 June 24th consultation was focused on Taxi industry members. An in-person event was held in the evening at 850 Coxwell for members of the public.

The final stakeholder consultation will be held today, focused on Private Transportation Companies.

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Transcript – Abdul Mohamoud June 24, 2024 Taxi consultation

“On the last question, the majority of the people voted ‘yes.’

Abdul Mohamoud, CEO of Co-op Cabs Photo: Taxi News

‘Keep taxicabs inactive for one more year’?  I think that’s a trick question.

What happens after one more year? And that’s then it gets cancelled?

It’s a little it’s not clear for that question. Okay, I voted ‘no,’ because it was basically ‘cancel now, or cancel a year later.’ It wasn’t straightforward. So, if I go back to the  three items that you had, why the vehicle, why the licenses are not active…

I think everybody knows that. The staff knows it. The industry knows it, and I’m sure you guys know it because of the again, we said the excessive, unlimited number of vehicles on the road.

 With the cost of operating taxicab, it is just not a profitable business because the city made it open entry. That’s why the licenses are inactive.

And number two, again, the core problem, you know, the root cause of the problem is basically, again, oversupply, and the unlimited number of vehicles on the road.

And I think, you know, the only thing the City should do is address that and see how fast they come off the shelf. That’s all you need to do, honestly speaking, right?

You know, come back with a formula percentage of vehicles on the rule that service the public. You can’t have 100,000 vehicles, and that’s why you have the plates on the shelf.

So, the other thing I’m going to say is, with respect to cancelling plates, the city issued the plates people bought them on the open market; the city devalued them by flooding the market; and now the city moves on cancelling the plates. I think you need to consider of the legal consequences of that.

Everybody knows what’s happened in Ottawa and just happened in Montreal as well. So, you’re cancelling licenses: there are people who drove all their life. When I went to taxi school, I was encouraged to put my name on the waiting list and drive three years and don’t work anywhere else: “Otherwise we will move you from from the waiting list.”

So I was forced to stay in the taxi industry to drive a taxi in order to get a plate. And people waited 25 years, then they got it, and some of them invested. And the city even charged $5,000 to transfer more licenses when people bought it.

Now, you’ve  flooded it; you deregulated it;  and now you’re going to move to cancel it. I think that’s the wrong direction to be going. And I think the issue at hand, again, the elephant in the room, is the oversupply of vehicles.”

(Click the white arrow at left to view video) Staff ask Taxi operators why they are inactive in a 5,500 vehicle market that now has 70,000 vehicles. Video: Taxi News