And the city wants many more cabs to be wheelchair-accessible, although Minnan-Wong conceded it would take years to transform the fleet of 4,849 cabs from sedans to vans or other vehicles capable of handling wheelchairs.
Proposals to gradually make it happen are outlined in a report that will be aired at public meetings next month to gain feedback from taxi industry players, Minnan-Wong said Thursday.
Final recommendations are expected in September.Currently, many cab licences are owned by absentee investors who never get behind the wheel but rent the vehicle to the drivers. Minnan-Wong said the customer will gain if more cabs are driven by their owners.
“The data show that cabs are better kept and less prone to mechanical breakdown. They’re safer, they’re cleaner and they’re kept in better shape. When you’re behind the wheel of your own car, you’re going to be a lot more conscientious.”
Under the strategy outlined in the report, when standard cab licences are sold, they will be replaced by a new licence, the Toronto Taxicab Licence, that will require wheelchair-capable vehicles.
The owner of the new licence will be required to drive the vehicle full-time but can also rent out the vehicle for a second shift.
Meanwhile, owners of ambassador cabs get a break under the proposals.
Under the rules, owners of ambassador licences must drive the vehicle and can’t rent it out. They have long complained they’re at a disadvantage if they can’t drive due to illness.
The report proposes to let ambassador owners rent out their vehicles for one shift per day. They will also be allowed to sell their licence, something they haven’t been able to do under existing rules.
Both standard and ambassador licences will, when sold, be replaced by the new Toronto Taxicab Licence.
The report says only 3.5 per cent of cabs are wheelchair accessible now, and the city would like to double that in time for the Pan-Am Games in July 2015.