Now, most major taxi companies now offer an app for that.
But Hailo and Uber, two companies that offer taxi-finding apps and have recently expanded to Montreal, are ruffling feathers in the industry.
The mobile apps not only offer the convenience of hailing a cab but paying for them with a click of a button.
Jean-Nicolas Guillemette of Uber Montreal says the three-year old tech startup from San Francisco is now in 60 cities around the world.
Drivers see that it's a great opportunity to increase their revenues and riders are happy that we've simplified how to get a taxi in Montreal,” he said.
Hailo isn't a tech company but a taxi brokerage - Montreal director Jeff Desruisseaux says their goal is to help drivers supplement their incomes.
“The taxi drivers don't work for the companies, the companies are there to work for the drivers. They pay substantial fees, monthly fees some of these drivers, in order to get calls,” he said.
Traditional service fees for drivers are upwards of $358 a month - the app companies take a 15 percent cut of the fare.
Denis Laramee, deputy general manager Diamond Taxi, says Hailo and Uber have created an uneven playing field.
“We have a problem with a driver being in the company and having those apps,” he said.
Drivers who use the service sometimes “stack calls,” or accept a fare using Hailo and another fare from Diamond’s dispatch at the same time, he explained.
Since the driver can’t be in two places at once, one of those customers is left waiting.
“If he's going to be an independent having those apps, good for him. The problem is having two or three sources become the problem for customer services,” he continued
Laramee is calling on the government to intervene. In the meantime they’re asking their drivers not to use the apps.
Though anecdotal evidence suggests many taxi drivers use the apps, no one would grant CTV’s Denise Roberts an interview to talk about the taxi turf-wars the apps have sparked.
But one driver said that he needs all the business he can get.
“For me, I have to pay my rent so that means I have to work,” he said.