Why do taxis get special treatment?

Traffic sign gives taxis special privileges at Peel and René Lévesque

Traffic sign gives taxis special privileges at Peel and René Lévesque

So what is it about taxis, anyway, that gives them all this special treatment on our roads? Above, left turns are prohibited on René Lévesque Blvd. in order to keep traffic flowing smoothly. But taxis, for some reason, are exempt from this rule. So if a taxi wants to turn left, it can just sit there in the middle of the intersection waiting for an opportunity to do so.

But what’s more frustrating is that taxis get to use Montreal’s reserved bus lanes, whether or not they are carrying any passengers. Why is that? Are taxis considered small buses? Does a taxi carrying one person pollute less than a personal car carrying one person? Are taxis so vital to the economy that they should be exempt from downtown traffic?

My attempts to find an explanation have so far been fruitless. As far as I can tell, the reasoning behind it is the same as that which gives newspapers an exemption from Canada’s Do Not Call List regulations: Taxis have a very powerful lobby.

9 thoughts on “Why do taxis get special treatment?

  1. Philippe-A.

    Taxis are not necessarely good for the environment, but they’re good in an urban transportation point of view.

    A taxi is basically a shared car, between citizens. Sure, on a one trip scale, it’s basically like using your own car. But most taxi users are people who don’t have a car and they only take the cab when they need it. When you own your own car, you just use it all the time.

    Also, more people using taxis mean less parking problem (though in Montreal, parking is seen as a very lucrative tax).

    A good taxi fleet is a an essentiel part of a healthy public transportation system.

    And even though I hate the way they drive, I still think they should have some road privileges. Except that one guy who stoped right in the middle of bernard, at the corner of parc, to drop a customer, wasting a whole green light and never bothering to pull over. That one should be shot.

    Reply
  2. mare

    Taxis are public transport. They do help keeping pollution down since they enable people to NOT have a car. Sometimes they take the bus/metro, sometimes a taxi. For instance when they are in a hurry, don’t know where they have to go exactly or have loads of luggage.

    (And taxis in Montreal are small and nimble compared to taxis in Europe were they all are big BMWs or Mercedeses or other huge cars.)

    Reply
  3. Karine

    In case your forgetting, you pay by the kilometre when you’re on a taxi so if they had to follow traffic and not be allowed to turn left, the person paying for the detour would be the passenger. And you also pay while taxis sit in traffic so it’s best to have on the move in the reserve lanes.

    Reply
  4. Fagstein Post author

    I don’t pay when taxis get stuck in traffic. People in taxis pay when taxis get stuck in traffic.

    Why should cars get special treatment just because they’re hired to do the driving?

    Reply
  5. Zach

    Well, taxis using bus lanes isn’t a big deal after stm hours, what with the buses not running and all. Which is pretty much the only time I ever use a taxi. I agree that it can be an issue during the day though.

    Either way, I’ve never been a fan of taxis. I’d rather walk for 2 hours then call a cab and dish out a ridiculous amount of money.

    Reply
  6. Isaac Lin

    Think of a taxi as a (usually) one-rider bus on a custom route, where there aren’t enough passengers to warrant a mass transit route. It permits one vehicle to be shared among many people by increasing its utilization rate. This may reduce the number of vehicles on the road (trying to figure out if it actually will is at least in part a game theory problem, I think) — ensuring that the travel time might be a bit faster than driving yourself would help compensate for putting up with a bit of waiting time for the taxi, which is the cost of reducing congestion. Perhaps most importantly for a cosmopolitan city like Montreal, one of the biggest market segments for cabs, tourists, will enjoy a better experience which will encourage return visits.

    Reply
  7. Fagstein Post author

    Think of a taxi as a (usually) one-rider bus on a custom route, where there aren’t enough passengers to warrant a mass transit route.

    If it’s using a reserved bus lane, clearly there are enough passengers to warrant a mass transit route.

    It permits one vehicle to be shared among many people by increasing its utilization rate.

    Perhaps, but it’s still only one person at a time. It may help parking, but a taxi driving 10 times as many people around isn’t better for the environment if it’s driving for 10 times as long.

    Perhaps most importantly for a cosmopolitan city like Montreal, one of the biggest market segments for cabs, tourists, will enjoy a better experience which will encourage return visits.

    Is that a priority? Should we also issue tourist passes so people can take their personal vehicles into reserved bus lanes?

    Reply

Leave a Reply