This article was originally published in January 2019.
Toronto taxi drivers and companies are in hot water this week after two separate occasions involving local taxi drivers refusing customers have been exposed. CityNews discovered that the issue continues to persist throughout the city and can become a serious safety concern, especially during the cold winter months.
Interviewed by CityNews, Rhonda Smith claimed it was her first time in the city where she and her husband were attending a Leafs game at the Scotiabank Arena. It was freezing that night, and the couple attempted to hail a cab back to their hotel, but they had no luck. Six to seven taxis refused the couple, claiming the journey was too short, with some even offering to take them if they paid up $100 instead.
Smith claimed the experience was scary, considering they weren't familiar with the area and weren't sure how to get back. The couple was eventually forced to walk back to their hotel in the cold.
Another incident recently came to light as well, where a family was turned down twice, specifically by Beck Taxi. This time it involved a family from outside of Ontario who was in the province for their son's cancer treatment at Sick Kids. The family told CityNews the reason was, once again, because of the short journey from the hospital to their temporary home nearby.
This situation may not come as a shock to many cab users, considering the initial battle between rideshare apps and taxi drivers, when many Torontonians claimed taxis would often leave them out to dry if their drive didn't seem worthwhile enough. This is one of the many reasons why most people are switching to rideshare apps for good.
Rejections like these are a direct offence to the official law that taxis in Toronto must accept all travellers, regardless of how short their trip is.
According to the City of Toronto's website, "A vehicle for hire is not permitted to refuse a fare based on limited distance unless the area is in a remote place which the driver reasonably believes to be unsafe."
Beck Taxi explained to CityNews that, since learning of the second situation involving their cab, the driver has been suspended.
These types of situations prove the importance of reporting instances where a taxi driver refuses service due to how short they consider the trip to be. While you might be left out to dry at that moment, reporting ride refusal may help a future cab user avoid a similar situation.
Update: Apparently, this troubling situation hasn't changed. According to blogTO journalist Lauren O'Neil, she unsuccessfully tried to hail two cabs outside Union Station late Easter Sunday before eventually being allowed into one.
The only way she finally snagged a ride? By lying about where she needed to go, changing from her supposed North York destination to Liberty Village, where she actually lives, once she got in the cab. The disgruntled taxi driver apparently became annoyed with her sudden change of trip, demanding she pay cash for the short ride.
O'Neil wasn't alone in being denied a ride multiple times. Others flocked to Twitter to describe frustrating experiences much like hers.
If you're ever denied a "short" ride by a cab driver, be sure to call 311 and file a complaint by detailing the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as the taxi-plate number (usually a four-digit number on the back or side of the cab).