Gas-guzzling cabs that drive miles without a passenger may soon be a thing of the past in HRM.
On Tuesday night, Halifax Regional Council approved in principle amendments to the current taxi bylaw which aim to reduce the environmental impact of the city’s cabs.
They voted to scrap the current "zone" system, where cars can only pick up passengers in designated areas. This caused cabbies to drive back and forth between zones without a passenger – a practice known as deadheading.
“Our objective as a municipality is to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gases,” said Coun. Jim Smith. “We have a great opportunity here.”
The city is currently divided into three zones, and drivers are generally not permitted to pick up or drop off a fare in a zone unless they are licensed there. Those who support opening the whole city to every cab say the change will also make it easier to hail a taxi downtown when the bars close and revellers spill out onto the streets.
But not everyone in council chambers supported eliminating the zones.
“The reason they are in place is so people out in Sackville and Cole Harbour get service,” said Coun. Steve Adams, chairman of the HRM’s taxi commission. “If there’s a Mooseheads game in Halifax, all the cabs (would be) there.”
Councillors also agreed to allow smaller, more fuel-efficient taxis to operate throughout HRM, opening the door for hybrid vehicles that pump fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere.