New one-stop feedback line, driver training announced for Toronto

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Taxi Alliance urges riders to “Point and Click” for improved service,

Announces new training program with Centennial College

 

August 24, 2016 (TORONTO) – The Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) today announced two major initiatives designed to assist the industry in its ongoing quest for improvement: a central email address for compliments and complaints, and a driver training program being designed in partnership with Centennial College.

“We are very excited to launch today one central email address serving the entire Toronto taxi industry, which consumers can use to give compliments to great drivers, and report complaints when service failed to meet their expectations,” said Rita Smith, Executive Director of the TTA.

The central email address is TOtaxifeedback@gmail.com, and the TTA has been piloting it over the summer. Every major taxi company in Toronto is part of the campaign.

“Monitoring the mailbox and responding to consumers has been an eye-opening experience,” Smith notes, “because the most important thing we learned was that virtually no one in the City realizes that taxi cabs are numbered specifically for identification purposes. I received multiple contacts from riders who wanted to offer a compliment or a complaint, but did not have the cab number or even the taxi company name.”

For this reason, the TTA is launching a “Point and Click” campaign, requesting that riders who have been refused a ride because the trip was too short or the driver lacked a cash machine – or any other reason – use their cell phone to snap a photo of the cab number on the door and send it to TOtaxifeedback@gmail.com. Those who do not own a camera cell phone are encouraged to simply make note of the cab number and company and send it by email to TOtaxifeedback.

“Ride refusal is one of the biggest complaints; by combining technologies like phone cameras and the email line, we believe we could eliminate this problem within weeks,” Smith says. “All of Toronto’s taxi companies have committed to acting on these complaints promptly. When complainants provide the taxi company and cab number, immediate action can be taken.”

Smith stresses that riders are encouraged to use the line to offer compliments as well: “Last week, we heard from a woman who said a cab driver literally saved her life as she was being assaulted on the sidewalk – a cabbie pulled over, threw open the cab door and helped her escape. She contacted Beck Taxi and she was able to locate the driver to thank him. There are many great stories out there, and we would like to hear them and be able to locate the drivers to thank them.”

 

The second component of today’s announcement is a major proactive step toward avoiding many of these problems in the first place: effective, focused, relevant training for professional drivers provided by Centennial College.

The Toronto Taxi Alliance is partnering with Centennial College to develop an improved driver training program that will include an English assessment, and lessons in customer service, cultural sensitivity, GTA road knowledge, and defensive driving.

“We’re delighted to be a part of this new service initiative by the Toronto Taxi Alliance,” says Barry O’Brien, Dean of the School of Business at Centennial College. “We will be delivering 18 hours of vital taxi driver training in a quick and intensive format, giving every new driver a wealth of information that will allow them to serve Toronto residents and tourists courteously and professionally from day one.”

Centennial College had been previously engaged by the City of Toronto to deliver its Ambassador Taxi training program. The curriculum and scheduling for the new program is in development, with training expected to begin early this fall. Classes will be offered at Centennial’s School of Transportation at Ashtonbee Campus in Scarborough. Drivers can call 416-289-5000, ext. 7086 for course information.

Toronto’s major taxi companies will require that every cab driver licensed since May 4th, 2016 complete this training. Drivers licensed earlier than May 4th who receive complaints can also be required to take this training.

“We welcome this new training initiative with Centennial College and look forward seeing more of the details in the weeks ahead,” says Philomena Comerford, CEO of Baird, MacGregor Hargrave Insurance. “We expect this program will support professionalism and best practices in the taxi industry.”

 

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TTA statement – Aug. 17 protest

Toronto Taxi Alliance Statement

August 17th peaceful protest

 

 

August 16th – (Toronto) – While the August 17th peaceful protest by taxi drivers at 850 Coxwell is not an initiative of the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA), the TTA understands the frustration of drivers.

“We’re disappointed that the City is not enforcing the by-laws on Uber, while it continues to ticket taxi drivers,” says Rita Smith, Executive Director of the TTA.

“Drivers have been faced with Uber’s illegal activities for 2 years. These protests are the result of the City’s inaction.

“We appreciate that the drivers have moved the peaceful protest to MLS at 850 Coxwell rather than disrupting traffic downtown.”

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Taxi Alliance waiting for Toronto to enforce new by-laws

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August 3, 2016 (Toronto) – While Toronto’s new vehicle for hire by-laws were expected to come into effect on July 15th, the city’s taxi industry has yet to see any enforcements against UberX’s illegal activities, says Rita Smith, Executive Director of the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA).

“We understand the City is working with a brand new set of by-laws and that it will take time to get all the regulations in place.  We understand that Licensing and Standards has a process to follow, and we are waiting and watching. However, on July 28th we were informed that Uber has not even yet been approved as a Private Transportation Company – staff are still reviewing Uber’s application,” Smith points out.

“This means that although Uber was able to pressure the City into writing new by-laws specifically for them, the Mayor’s motion was introduced on May 3rd, and new by-laws came into effect on July 15, Uber remains unregulated in Toronto."

“Now it is up to Uber to comply with Toronto’s laws. This delay is inexcusable – Uber is once again giving the 'one finger salute' to Mayor John Tory and Tracey Cook,” Smith says.

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Insured? Prove it, TTA says

Media release

Insured? Prove it, says Taxi Alliance

July 7, 2016 (Toronto) – Today’s announcement that Ontario has revised regulations in order to allow ride-hailing companies to buy specialized insurance products only highlights the need for these drivers to prove they have actually purchased insurance to carry paying passengers, says Rita Smith, Executive Director of the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA).

“Confusion reigns. We have been hearing since June 2015 that these products will exist, they are coming, and ride-hailing drivers can purchase them. The fact is, no one – not the insurance companies, Ontario government, or Municipal Licensing and Standards will say how many drivers have purchased the new policy – if in fact, any ever have.

“This announcement simply provides more compelling proof that MLS must demand ride-hailing drivers present their certificate of insurance when they register with the City, as the May 3rd Council motion directed.”

Toronto announced that ride-hailing companies will be required to comply with new vehicle-for-hire by-laws as of July 15th.

“Taxi industry professionals are asking how this can possibly work: is MLS going to register 20,000 UberX drivers on July 15th? We predict Uber will request an extension to this deadline and that their drivers will continue to drive without insurance indefinitely. We call upon the City to honour the intent of the new by-law and insist on seeing a certificate of insurance for UberX drivers as they do for every single taxi driver on the road in Toronto,” says Smith.

 

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Toronto taxi industry rejects surge pricing

May 11, 2016 (Toronto) – The Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and taxi industry leaders announced today that its members and other industry groups reject the surge pricing option enabled in the May 3rd City Council decision.

Surge pricing, a business model which sees drivers raise fares when demand is high, has traditionally been illegal in Toronto and since the Council vote, customers and drivers have sent an avalanche of messages to the taxi companies to say that surge pricing is a terrible idea, and they want nothing to do with it.

“We believe that surge pricing has no place in superior customer service, and is not an activity engaged in by professionals – especially not professional drivers responsible for the safety of vulnerable passengers,” says Rita Smith, Executive Director of the TTA.

“We believe that a young woman heading home with $20 in her wallet should be confident that a cab ride which cost $15 on Tuesday will still cost $15 on Saturday, not $30, $45 or $90.

“A senior citizen travelling to a doctor’s appointment should feel safe knowing in advance what the charge will be whether or not it is raining, or if the TTC is down.”

Toronto taxi companies are in agreement that surge pricing in their smartphone apps is inherently unfair to customers and would end up being bad for business in the long run – “and we are here for the long run,” Smith points out. “Our members have watched as Toronto allowed an upstart foreign corporation storm the city and get the rules changed. We are more determined than ever to remain consumers’ first choice in transportation by providing the best, safest, most reliable and dependable service to the city of Toronto.”

Having reviewed the May 3rd Council motion, Beck, City, Co-op, Crown, Diamond  and other major businesses have said they will not implement surge pricing in their business models. The Canadian Taxicab Association also rejects the model.

“There are elements of the motion which we support, like requiring every driver of a vehicle for hire to provide proof of insurance to the City. There are other elements which we find challenging, but we will find a way to work with the new by-laws,” Smith says.

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Organizations which reject the surge pricing model enabled by the May 3rd Toronto City Council Motion:

 

Able-Atlantic Taxi

Beck Taxi

Best Choice Taxi

City Taxi

Co-op Taxi

Crown Taxi

Diamond Taxi

Independent Cab Owners Co-operative Incorporated

Maple Leaf Taxi

Association of Fleet Taxi Operators of Toronto

A4U Taxi

Bangladeshi Taxi Drivers’ Association

Canadian Taxicab Association

Peter’s Taxi Ltd and Avonhill Limousine

Taxi Action

United Taxi Workers Association of GTA

 

 

Toronto Council May 3rd and 4th – updated with new video to share

On May 3rd or 4th, Toronto Council will vote on the amended report for Vehicles for Hire. 

The TTA supports the amended version which resulted from the L&S meeting on April 15th. 

Please plan to attend Toronto City Council on May 3rd and/or 4th to show your support for the amended report. The meeting agenda has not been posted yet, but you can confirm time and date by checking here.

Please arrive by 8:30 if possible. 

View excellent new video here