The explosion in the number of “illegal” taxis at Montreal-Trudeau airport calls for immediate action, says one of the largest taxi groups in the city, lamenting that it has simply “become too easy” to improvise an authorized driver and make money from it.
“It’s mushrooming, literally. It has become far too easy. Honestly, the government has opened up a jungle with all of this,” says Taxi Coop general manager Jean Fortier in an interview with La Presse.
Thursday, columnist Maxime Bergeron revealed that nearly 400 offenses have been listed since January alone for the presence of these “illegal taxis”, whose drivers are sometimes harassing, or even seek to defraud the user by increasing the price arbitrarily .
Aéroports de Montréal (ADM), which is concerned about passenger safety, is formally asking Quebec to urgently review its regulations. For Jean Fortier, everything has changed since Quebec passed the Act respecting the remunerated transportation of persons by automobile in 2019. “Before, we knew how many people had a license in Montreal. It was legislated, that was clear. There, there is not even really an inventory anymore. Anyone can become a licensed driver,” he says.
The manager believes that it “may” be necessary to set up a new group of taxis to put pressure on the government. “There must be actions that are taken quickly. We can’t do much. Me, if I go over there and start checking, it’s chaos. It becomes very complicated to manage, ”insists Mr. Fortier.
In his eyes, a solution can easily be put in place. “We are talking about an acute situation in a particular place, with certain groups. I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to come up with something. It’s about the government having a good ear, a good listener,” he adds.
At Tourisme Montreal, spokesperson Aurélie De Blois says her group is “very concerned” about the situation. “With summer upon us, there will be thousands of travelers flocking to the airport. This is a major security issue, and authorities are expected to take action quickly,” she said.
For the organization, it is a “reputational issue” for Montreal. “Welcome is the number one factor in returning a visitor to a destination. When you arrive in Montreal and you go through a traumatic experience, you will definitely tell your loved ones about it, ”underlines Ms. De Blois.
Tourisme Montréal calls on the authorities to “carry out tighter communication work” with visitors, in order to prevent them from being caught by illegal taxis. “We also hope that any regulations will ensure that we are able to intervene on the spot, possibly by issuing fines. The problem must be stemmed at the source,” concludes the spokesperson.
On Twitter on Thursday, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, for her part stressed that the situation reported by La Presse “is worrying”. “I am meeting with airport management today to take stock and assess possible solutions,” she said.
ADM’s demands are as follows: first, that the ban on solicitation that previously existed be reintroduced, that taxi drivers who work at the airport should again be required to be all accredited and, finally, that traffic controllers can act as soon as they observe the solicitation, and not just a transaction.
Without the help of Quebec, the organization says it is powerless in the face of the situation, among other things since the Bureau du taxi, which previously exercised close surveillance, ceased to exist four months ago. “Our greatest concern is for the safety of authorized drivers, but above all, that of passengers, who can find themselves in very unfortunate positions,” said Anne-Sophie Hamel, director of communications at the airport.
In an attempt to calm things down in the short term, ADM has also launched a poster campaign inside the terminal. She reminds travelers to always use well-marked taxis and Ubers, which continue to operate legitimately.