A new day dawns for the Montreal region’s taxi services

Champlain Taxi among the firms set to provide Laval residents with service

Following a major and sometimes tumultuous reorganization of the Montreal region’s taxi services, there was some good news last week for taxi drivers and fleet operators who are about to see one of the greatest changes in the past 50 years introduced into their operations.

Will now serve Laval

In line with new provincial regulations that are part of a third and final phase of taxi sector changes coming into effect, taxi companies that previously were mandated to serve regional taxi “agglomerations” in the Montreal area have gained the right to provide service beyond their borders – including the City of Laval.

In an historic first, at least five Montreal-area taxi companies are banding together to work in a more cooperative way in order to better serve the public. The companies include Taxi Champlain (Montreal central), Taxi Pontiac/Hemlock (Montreal South-West and East), Taxi Coop de l’Ouest (Laval), Taxi Atlas (NDG/Westmount) and Taxi Union (Longueuil/South Shore).

Good news, better access

“The good news is that we just got accepted by the Commission de Transports du Québec to go into Laval,” George Boussios, president of Montreal-based Taxi Champlain, said this week in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia. The consortium has also reached an agreement to coordinate with two taxi firms in Quebec City, ensuring better access to long-distance transportation.

The good news is that we just got accepted by the Commission de Transports du Québec to go into Laval

Champlain Taxi president George Boussios, a Laval resident

“We’re all putting our calls together to give better service,” added George Malouf, general manager of Taxi Pontiac/Hemlock. “In the next little while, we should be able to give everyone in these areas a little bit of a different option from what they’ve had for the past 50 years.”

The change will allow the taxi companies to promote the availability of their services beyond the limits of what had traditionally been each company’s territory for the past half-century.

An exciting development

“It’s a win-win arrangement, both for the customers and the taxi drivers,” said Charles Sakr, president of Taxi Coop de l’Ouest. “We’re very excited about this development which we expect will lead to more efficient operations,” added Taxi Union president François Cyr.

The change means that when any of the taxi companies receives a request from a client, but finds itself unable to meet the demand, a call will go out over a common channel and a driver from any of the taxi firms will be able to accept the client regardless of where they are located within the taxi territories.

Under the old rules, when a taxi driver from outside one of the agglomerations drove a client into that agglomeration, he wasn’t allowed to pick up another client for the return trip.

Better service for Laval

“If a client from Laval called requesting one of our taxis, we also needed to ask if they were coming back to Montreal,” said Kamal Mirazimi, Atlas Taxi’s general manager. “For example, we weren’t allowed to take somebody from Chomedey to Sainte-Dorothée. But now we are allowed to provide that service.”

On another note, the taxi companies currently have waiting lists of potential new chauffeurs who have applied, under the latest phase of the province’s taxi industry overhaul, to become taxi drivers.

Under the new regulations, under which many of the longtime licensing requirements were abandoned, the applicants can now include drivers from ridesharing providers, as well as pizza, fast-food and courier delivery services.

Some visible changes

Under the old system, when a client boarded a taxi, the first thing he or she would see on the left behind the driver’s head was a registered “pocket” number with identification photo of the driver, while an additional I.D. number was inscribed on the front right-side window and each car had its own special “T” (for taxi) license plate.

Although that has all been eliminated now under the taxi service reorganization, taxis will continue to have identifying rooftop “dome” lights. As well, each car will have a taxi meter, and possibly also a glass partition separating the driver and passenger areas.