Toronto Taxis

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: They're a mixed blessing.

The Long Version: I don't normally take cabs. I can go for months or even years without getting in one. But over the past month I've used them four times, so I thought it was a good time for a review.

Twice I've used cabs for my typical need - getting to other transportation, such as planes, trains, or buses, with too much luggage to take on the subway or streetcar. The other two times have been to get furniture-sized boxes home without waiting for delivery. So there's a definite cargo-carrying one-way theme here: I live, shop, and work downtown, I don't drink, don't go 'clubbing', and am happy to use public transit or walk to just about anywhere I want to go. So finding taxi drivers that can find an obscure address half-way across the city when I can't put two words together has never been an issue for me.

Taxis in the downtown core are very common, but there's not nearly as many as Chicago (when I was there) or in New York (when I watch a crime TV show). The ones in Toronto are all painted in their company's colours, so there's never the sea of yellow that other cities enjoy. The cab companies argue that the differentiation helps customers choose between taxis, but I can't identify the company by the colour scheme and wouldn't care if I did. I just look for the lit dome on top that tells me a cab is available, and I suspect that's pretty typical. All of the ones that I've taken have been in good repair and were driven well and directly to my destination. So when I want to take a taxi, I appreciate their speed and availability and don't worry about the details.

The problem comes when I don't want to take a taxi. I don't subscribe to the view that they're bad drivers, because anyone who spends that much time on the road must know a thing or two about it. I do think that taxis behave erratically and occasionally recklessly. Now that I've moved out of the suburbs, taxis doing something unwise and (frequently) illegal maneuvers have replaced SUVs wielded by inattentive drivers as the biggest threat to my personal safety. I have noticed that cabs with passengers are much more patient and courteous with the other people that they share the streets with, but I'm not really sure why that would be. Odd, isn't it?


  1. The Montreal taxi is a strange beast. The drivers own the cars individually, so there is no uniformity in colour or model. It's whatever car, usually a sedan, in regular car colours with a small white sign on top, labeled with the phone number and company. And yes, they're a menace here too...


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