Transportation

Regional council approves changes to taxi industry

Increase proposed in order to meet demand

Halifax regional council approved numerous changes to the taxi industry Tuesday night, after a four-hour debate.

These changes include mandatory safety and sensitivity training for drivers, a requirement that all taxis accept debit and credit card payments and a 60 per cent increase in the number of local licenses. A full list of proposed changes can be found in this report.

Under the approved changes, the municipality will issue another 600 licenses, bringing the total number of cabs to 1,600. Currently there are 1,000 licenses issued, with 500 people on a wait-list to receive one when they become available.

Sally Christie, supervisor of regional licensing for the Halifax Regional Municipality, said the current numbers of cabs does not meet demand.

“The only way to address that is to increase the limitations,” she told council. Having 600 more cabs would enable those on the wait-list to receive a license with room for more, she said.

Coun. Steve Craig was in favour of the increase.

“We say that we want to eliminate the waiting list; well, let’s make that number big,” he said.

Council also ordered a report that would look at regulations for companies like Uber or Lyft, if they were to come to the HRM. Coun. Matt Whitman opposed the clause, as he wanted to “enable” Uber or Lyft to come to Halifax, not “regulate” it as the clause states.

Council will also ask for the province’s permission to give grants to those wishing to operate accessible taxis.