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5 things to know about the new Toronto taxi rules

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 22, 2014

toronto taxi rulesCatching a taxi in Toronto is going to become a very different experience over the next decade. After more than three years of talks and consultations with cab drivers and company owners, city council past a raft of changes that will result in a fleet of safer, wheelchair-accessible, hybrid vehicles plying the streets.

Many of the changes affect drivers and cab companies - there's a new license that all drivers must hold by 2024 - but some of the new rules trickle down to customers. Here are five things to know about the taxicab industry review.


City council voted to transition all taxi plate owners to a new license, the Toronto Taxicab License, by 2024. The new license requires all holders to own a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, which will mean an end to the current taxi fleet. A motion by Councillor Joe Mihevc asked city staff to report on the possibility of a standard accessible taxi design for the city, like in New York City and London.


Passengers who vomit or otherwise "soil" the back of a taxi (use your imagination) will be fined $25 to cover the cost of cleaning. It's not clear when the fee will become legal and it remains to be seen how drivers might reasonably collect the money, especially if the passenger doing the soiling is drunk, alone, or paying cash. The cost is deigned to reflect the average fare in Toronto.


To discourage ride-and-run customers and would-be robbers, the new rules allow drivers to ask for a maximum of $25 up front if they deem it necessary. The money can be paid in cash, on a credit or debit card, or via a card pre-authorization, similar to pre-payment at a gas station. More than 70% of drivers believe taking a fare in advance will improve safety.


This one is surprising, mainly because somehow it wasn't the law until now. A motion moved by Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and adopted by a vote of 31-12 now requires all taxis operating in Toronto to have a set of snow tires. The city will decide on a date each year when all vehicles must be fully winterized.


Right now, just 10% of licensed taxicabs in Toronto are alternative fuel vehicles, but that will change in the next few years, apparently. The new rules require all taxis to be replaced with alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles at the end of the mandatory five-year life cycle. Confusingly, wheelchair-accessible vehicles (i.e. all new Toronto taxis) are exempt because no cars that fit the city's criteria are currently available, which is one of the reasons Toronto is looking at standardizing its taxi vehicles.

The staff report estimates $18.8 million will be saved annually in fuel and annual greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 30,000 tonnes of CO2.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Grey van der Meer/blogTO Flickr pool.



Josh / February 22, 2014 at 02:06 am
I too hope that a byproduct of mandatory accessible cabs moves us towards a custom vehicle like the NV200 in New York. The sedan makes very little sense in this age.
Steven / February 22, 2014 at 09:03 am
Agee with Josh! (above)

Don't agree with pay in advance. I would NEVER tip if that's the case.
laurel / February 22, 2014 at 09:12 am
toronto should follow NY's example where drivers can't refuse to take debit/credit; a constant battle here. harder to enforce is having to accept fares despite distance which is always a pain after a concert where drivers wait for large fares and leave you out in the rain!
Yasmin replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 10:14 am
What do you mean? Credit or debit card is money.
EMQ / February 22, 2014 at 10:20 am
I hope that along with these new rules there is some kind of enforcement that prevents taxi drivers from smoking in their cars. I have had to refuse several cars that reeked of smoke when I opened the door. Also, if we have to pay a "soiling" fee, perhaps the drivers should be charged if they don't bathe!
J / February 22, 2014 at 10:33 am
How about cab drivers are not allowed to ask "where are you going?" outside of a busy concert venue.

Then refuse to take you if you live too far.

Barbara replying to a comment from Steven / February 22, 2014 at 10:34 am
I agree with you Steven, I wouldn't tip if a driver insisted I pay in advance either.
iHateCellPhones / February 22, 2014 at 10:42 am
First new rule should be that all cabbies should stay the hell off their cell phones when driving a fare. Just shut up and drive. I don't want to hear your highly annoying cell phone conversation.
Mel replying to a comment from Ana Raposo / February 22, 2014 at 10:42 am
You are a bloody idiot. It is the Landlords who are on welfare with their dumpy rooms and buildings. They collect the cheques you IGNORAMUS. Welfare is a necessity. Read some history on pre welfare conditions.
CC replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 10:48 am
How old are you? Card transactions are more common than ever.
carrie replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 10:49 am
Johnnie : paying your taxi with a credit card/ debit gives you a receipt and hardly clogging the system , if you pay with cash the driver has to fumble around to find change and then write a receipt if you need one ( which many people do )
CC replying to a comment from EMQ / February 22, 2014 at 10:50 am
Good idea.
Roger / February 22, 2014 at 11:07 am
How about making it mandatory to equip all taxis with turn signals?

Also, having credit card/debit card options mandatory would be welcome. And disallowing charging a $1.50 fee for using debit payment. If you took a short trip and didn't have cash on hand, the $1.50 surcharge for using debit on a $7.50 fare amounts to 20% of the fare!
but replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 11:21 am
When are people the most likely to take cabs?
1. UNEXPECTEDLY, and when the TTC fails them: You're now super late for work, and certainly carrying cash but maybe five dollars short of the expected cab fare. = Debit, credit.
2. In less than favourable weather, which again is unexpected but in this weather your fare is also almost always higher than anticipated because you had to inch by two accidents en route. = Debit, credit

We live in a city where the transit will almost never get you from point A to point B. We live in a city where the weather only deals in unpleasant extremes. A lot of us are going to need cabs, and we can't be expected to be carrying an exact amount of paper or metal money every time we do. In 2014. In a large, developed city. Money is money and someday physical cash will not even exist.
K. / February 22, 2014 at 11:29 am
The new car requirements are just going to be used to justify large fare increases in the future. Cabs are already too expensive in this city.

Also, accessible means something closer (but perhaps not exactly the same in size) to a minivan. So we'll go from mid sized sedans to a bunch of vans and compact SUV type cabs all over the places. I suspect the size increase is going to kill any benefit from the move to hybrid.
Antonella / February 22, 2014 at 11:53 am
How about improvements for customers? Can we pay for out cabs easier? Can we not be rejected based in the distance we are going? Can we have cleaner cabs? And, why are taxis so darn expensive? These are the problems customers are having today, who is fighting for our rights???
Phil / February 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm
Looks like generally good changes.

Expensive? It's all relative. I'm from Australia and taxis are much more over there. As for Johnnie who thinks people should just withdraw some cash, I think you're stuck in the 1990s buddy. I'm still amazed that cheques exist as a thing over here - and faxes! Electronic forms of payment are definitely more convenient and if you're using cash, you're probably in the minority.
tnt / February 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm
How about a rule against the cabbie talking on a cell phone for the entire ride...
Steve / February 22, 2014 at 12:54 pm
There is already enough trouble with giving proper change back to customers. SO many times I have say a 10 or 13 dollar fare and give the cabby $15.00. Many times they just say thank you and drive away if I am already out the cab. In effect they just steal the difference. Imagine now you pay them $25.00 in advance... I am sure the complaints about cabbie skiving back the full and correct change will spike!!!
Collin / February 22, 2014 at 01:05 pm
Everything in Toronto is becoming out of reach. People are having a hard time paying their bills, buying food and having shelter. Now a taxi ride is complicated and more expensive than it should be....by far. It seems the more advanced we get the more difficult everything becomes.I work 50 hrs a week @1
$13/hr and just skim by. I have a college degree. In a huge city like Toronto, why am I struggling to get by on such a pittly wage? Not to mention my bachelor apartment costs me a whopping $1,100/monthly. I have a problem with mice even though I'm a clean and orderly tenant.The landlord does nothing but pretend he's fixing the problem that never goes away. My neighbors party til 3am when they feel like it and I get no reprieve. So I ask, when I can afford to take a cab, shouldn't I be able to without a hassle or extra expense? I'm really starting to hate Toronto!
Jane / February 22, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Rarely do I ever have a decent cab experience in Toronto. There are always drivers on their phone (using a headset/bluetooth), driving reckless, refusing to accept credit cards even though they have the machine, refusing to drive you if you are not traveling far enough, taking the long route to milk the meter, driving slowly to wait for the light to turn red, I could go on. Now, I use Hailo and I've never been happier. They usually arrive within 5 minutes and you do not need to deal with the hassle of negotiating the payment method (i.e. arguing to use the credit card machine). Also, I've noticed that the level of service is much better; therefore, I always tip 10-15%. Not to mention you occasionally receive offer codes that give you $5-10 off your next ride. You simply order a cab on your phone, ride the cab and then walk out after they stop the meter. You receive a notification on the app confirming the fare and then you rate the service.

What Toronto should really do is have all cabs install a paypass service in the back of the cab so customers can just tap and go. Not sure why they haven't done this already. They have this in ALL NY cabs.

Jefferson / February 22, 2014 at 01:09 pm
Cabs have cameras that take photos of patrons (for cabbies security)'. What about giving patrons a way of tracing cabbies. Maybe a qr code next to their license so passage gets could scan the code, pull up the cabbies licensing record to see if he/she has had any disciplinary action. If passengers could have a record of their cabbie via Scanning the cabbies QR code might also reduce the number of sexual assaults /abuse of female passengers.
Peace replying to a comment from Collin / February 22, 2014 at 01:28 pm
Don't hate Toronto, Collin; instead just move. Regina is cheaper, for example. Winnipeg and Fredricton, too. If you stay, invest $125 in a bike! Hate is a waste of time, so move on.
piero replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 01:30 pm
Now now. Have you ever been stuck in line at the grocery store waiting for that old lady with her purse from the 1960s carrying documents since that same era trying to find her money and then waiting for change and then waiting for her to put everything all back into a seemingly unsolvable puzzle? Best to ask Taxis to accept tap & pay or mobile pay technology to speed up the process and provide more choice. San Fran cabs are pretty cool for payments.
Margaret replying to a comment from Ana Raposi / February 22, 2014 at 01:37 pm
Are you a complete idiot?
Way to generalize.
Even with a reasonably well paying full-time office job of $40,000+ a year I can *just* barely afford a car. And it's almost 10 years old. Loan payments + cost of gas + ridiculously high insurance in the city, especially in certain "high risk" neighborhoods. My car costs more than my rent!

Not to mention the fact that most people only take taxis when they know they'll be out drinking. Are you trying to encourage drunk driving?
I am Ana Raposo / February 22, 2014 at 01:44 pm
I am also Spartacus. No, seriously, I'm Ana, grandaughter of Bebe Reposo, daughter of Spartacus Reboso.
Carla replying to a comment from Barbara / February 22, 2014 at 02:10 pm
Not tipping because you have to pay a deposit up front is ridiculous... Especially now that you have read the new rules and understand that it is their right to do so as a mean of protecting themselves. The cost to you is still the same in the end, that's why it is just a deposit.
Abba replying to a comment from Roger / February 22, 2014 at 02:20 pm
I have to agree with Roger that it is mandatory that cabs having functioning turn signals but also add that cabs have a rearview mirror. Imagine if all the cabs in Toronto had turn signals and rearview mirrors? It might eliminate a lot of lane to lane jumping and U-turns in front of other moving vehicles to make it safe for both other drivers and cyclists that share the roads.
Marc replying to a comment from K. / February 22, 2014 at 02:26 pm
As much as we would like to think we're the only one in the world oppressed to do anything progressive, we are not. Other jurisdictions have had similar mandates put on their cab service. We'll find a way - don't you worry your annoyed little pocketbook.
RM replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 03:24 pm
I agree that it's super annoying when someone is fiddling with their credit card in front of a long line of waiting people, but how does that apply to cabs? If I take a cab home, there's hardly a lineup of people there waiting to use it next. Debit and credit machines in cabs make perfect sense.
lil / February 22, 2014 at 04:23 pm
I read some of these comments from people who don't realize how expensive it is to operate a cab in Toronto. I don't see a lot of people lining up for these lucrative jobs, nor do I see children saying they want to be a cab driver when they grow up. Most of them are new immigrants because no one else wants to do the job...low pay, long hours, dangerous. Especially burns me when people complain about cabbies charging a surcharge for using a debit card. So the cabbie should absorb the cost of your transaction because you were too lazy or dumb to go to an ATM? They're all over the place, including variety stores... plan ahead and take out enough to last you the week. These guys are already absorbing the cost of people who don't pay their fare.
Duane replying to a comment from laurel / February 22, 2014 at 04:24 pm
Laurel, I agree with you. We are in the 21st century, we shouldn't have to stop at a bank machine to withdraw money for a cab. ALL cabs should accept debit or credit. To those haters saying it's a waste of time, try living in neighbourhoods where you can get robbed for your cash, having the use of debit or credit is safer and depending on who you bank with, free of charge (ING Direct).
lil replying to a comment from Jefferson / February 22, 2014 at 04:27 pm
Have you ever been in the back of a cab? They have a picture of the driver and his license number. If you're so inclined, then take a picture
lil replying to a comment from Barbara / February 22, 2014 at 04:28 pm
Doubt taxi drivers would miss the kind of tip you would give anyways, if that alone affects the tip you give.
anon / February 22, 2014 at 04:32 pm
Canada. Where the customer is always at fault.
K. replying to a comment from Marc / February 22, 2014 at 08:50 pm
Pocketbooks are exactly what we should be worried about. We have one of the most expensive taxi systems in North America. The more we impose restrictions that increase prices, the more taxis become the sole domain of six figure income earners in the financial district, tourists and drunk club goers who already spent a fortune on bottle service, rather than a viable means of transit for the masses. Alternatively, we raise costs and don't raise prices, then it's on the backs of taxi owners and operators.

As for comparing ourselves to other markets, it's important to be careful which markets. Toronto likes to think it's comparable to NYC or London, but those are huge cities with massive taxi fleets and generally different income distributions. For a more realistic comparison, try the more mundane Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. How are the taxi services in those cities managed.
K. replying to a comment from Josh / February 22, 2014 at 08:59 pm
Thanks for the link, I stand corrected. Even large hybrid vehicles have superior fuel consumption to typical mid sized conventional sedans.
really torontonians?! / February 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm
You people who do not tip are disgusting. These poor drivers work so hard for what 30k a year?!? Tip them and servers if you choose to have people drive and serve you.
Ki replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm
Wow, no need to be such a dick. A pack of gum costs a buck, a cab ride costs significantly more. I'm not sure about Laurel, but I only take cabs when I need to, and sometimes I don't have a twenty on me.
Be nicer.
Tony / February 23, 2014 at 11:38 am
A lot of the problems we face in cabs today is because the driver does not own the license. They are on the hook for everything. That is why a cab needs to be on the road 24/7. There are individuals that own over 20 cab licenses but have never driven a cab. They don't give a rats ass about the cab. They only care that they get their $2000 per month from the driver to lease the license. They don't want to use debit or credit cards because it comes out of their pocket not the owner of the license. When a fare takes off it comes out of their pocket. When they have to clean the backseat it comes out of their pocket. Now that the rules have changed and the license will belong to the driver we should see better service. Should is the key word, time will tell. Stop complaining people and live a day in their shoes.
scottd replying to a comment from Johnnie / February 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm
Dear Johnnie, you are going to hate the future.
jack Blay / February 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm
only low class people pay with credit cards that's not real money step your game up. especially with the rise of fraud dishonest people want to use credit and they insist on it you have to be very very very vigilant against those scumbags
kiki / February 23, 2014 at 01:13 pm
One of the main reasons for such heavy traffic in downtown Toronto is because of empty taxis trolling for fairs. They drive below the speed limit and intentionally stop at yellow lights causing backups of traffic. Have you not experienced this????

This is also a causing wasted emissions in the environment. So the taxis will be hybrids? This will only mean that more of them will be on the roads trolling and slowing the rest of us down feeling like they can waste more gas.

When I was in Paris, France, there were designated taxi drops and pickups. You were not allowed to hail a taxi anywhere thus preventing the flow of traffic in an already congested city. It was easy to manage for all pedestrians. Toronto should be looking at options like this in order to keep emissions down and the flow of traffic moving.

I feel that focusing on barf fees is not an effective use of anyone's time or money.
godge / February 23, 2014 at 02:27 pm
first they need to focus on punishing drivers who don't pick up fares because it's too far, not far enough or in a different direction than they want to go.

I feel the barf fine will backfire anyway, as now everyone will know if you make a little mess in the back you will have to pay $25, so why not just make a huge mess for the same price??
Patrick / February 23, 2014 at 02:28 pm
I just don't understand how it's "green" to trash thousands of cars to make way for hybrid cars. Overall, the production of these new cars is less green than sticking with the cars we already have...I would think.
andrewS replying to a comment from Patrick / February 23, 2014 at 08:17 pm
The cabs have a mandated replacement cycle (10 yrs? That's pretty near the useful lifespan of a taxi anyways), the rules stipulate that the replacement vehicle must be accessible, and the replacement falls within the regular replacement cycle. Nothing goes to the wreckers that wasn't already going there.
Ali / February 23, 2014 at 08:30 pm
When you vomit in cab you are throwing some thing and if u didn't clean then you should pay to him who is doing your job.if cab driver have to pay for smell then.coustomer should pay more whom got the smell of.lets think when you are drunk at weekend and smell a lot of alcohol or bear's or marvana etc these cabbies are pick you up.and if they got sweat of still working you have complane.
Ali / February 23, 2014 at 08:37 pm
If you open your eyes and know where this cab is going then you cannot be in mess.
I remember I picked up three guys and reach at the destination they said to me "you ripp us off " I asked them "sir can you please tell me what rout I should take ?" Then they reply me " we are not from Toronto"
There are to many stupid questions and answers. But simply open your eyes and know where are you going.
Ali / February 23, 2014 at 08:42 pm
Stop at yellow light is law.
This is not true at all taxi is making traffic havy.what you said abt street cars and parking at the main streets ?
Spike replying to a comment from but / February 24, 2014 at 12:20 am
Perhaps if people knew how to take the TTC better, they wouldn't have to worry about being late. Oh wait, I forget; they think that it's like the transporters on Star Trek, and can get them there very quickly. But it can't, and so people have to plan their trips PROPERLY so that they won't be late.
twas a far far better place replying to a comment from J / February 24, 2014 at 01:11 pm
Funny I always get refused for living too close! All the cabbies I try to catch (especially at Sound Academy) practically peel away when they find out I live in the downtown core.
Share bear / February 24, 2014 at 05:40 pm
8 tires per taxi will offset any "good" hybrids will do. The petro chems making the tires is insane. The cost will be large, and a giant whateehouse of tires all year long isn't cheap.
Luska / February 24, 2014 at 11:50 pm
There is no way I am paying $25 in advance. Most of the time when I take a taxi the fare is under $15. Now, I'm supposed to try and get back the $10 difference? This is not a good idea. It will discourage me from taking taxis.
bugeyedbrit replying to a comment from Luska / February 25, 2014 at 12:41 am
read the article ...

To discourage ride-and-run customers and would-be robbers, the new rules allow drivers to ask for a maximum of $25 up front if they deem it necessary....

max of $25, not just $25 outright.
dhillon / February 25, 2014 at 09:58 am
Why everyone is not ready to pay $25 upfront when allthe gas stations charge in advance at night.feel the no obe is honest who dont like to pay $25 in advance .if your ride is less you will get your diffrence back.
EveryonesOpinion replying to a comment from bugeyedbrit / February 25, 2014 at 11:20 am
You'll be surprised the amount of taxis who WOULD charge the full amount and say something like their machines won't allow them to do refunds or they don't know how.
bugeyedbrit replying to a comment from EveryonesOpinion / February 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm
I could be wrong, but I really don't think thats the intention, who would try and charge $25 upfront for something that only costs $15 (and who do you think would agree to it?)

And to Dhillon, the analogy isn't correct, as you get what you pay for at the gas station, ie $25 bucks worth of gas, potentially not the case if the $25 upfront fee is a flat non negotiable amount. Whats next,the TTC demanding 5$ upfront to get on the stereetcar, on a $3 buck fare.... ?
Sam replying to a comment from Roger / June 10, 2014 at 08:42 pm
The $1.25 charged on the use of your debit card goes to the bank and not the driver. Is the same when you use your debit card at a bank that is not your mother bank.

There is also a surcharge on the use of your credit card to pay your taxi fare. The law states that a passenger should pay the full meter amount. The driver is not supposed to pay the 5% service charge your bank charge on the use of your credit card.
Cheri / January 13, 2016 at 02:16 pm
In the top 10 of my favorite content pieces, thankyou!
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