How can taxis be safer? Decals, GPS, shields, alarms among suggestions

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How can taxis be safer? Decals, GPS, shields, alarms among suggestions

Halifax's transportation committee has endorsed recommendations from a staff report to make the taxi industry safer for both passengers and drivers. 

Municipal officials say there have been a dozen allegations of sexual assault involving taxi drivers between 2012 and 2016, including five last year.

Some local cab companies have already announced new safety measures in the wake of a high-profile case that saw a former taxi driver acquitted of sexually assaulting a passenger.

One of the concerns raised following the 2016 incidents was the lack of visible identification. Decals with licence numbers have now been produced and taxi drivers have started displaying them voluntarily.

Making decals mandatory

"We're asking for them to be mandatory so we can ensure they are in all cars as a standard," said Kevin Hindle, Halifax's co-ordinator for licence standards. 

A pamphlet with tips for passenger safety has been produced and is available at customer service centres, police stations and on the city's website. They will be put on university and college campuses in time for the fall semester.

There are also a number of long-term suggestions for improving taxi safety, including:

- Video/audio recording systems in taxis

- GPS real-time tracking

- Restricted passenger access to front seats

- In-car shields

- Emergency alarm buttons

Hindle said he does not think those ideas should be considered until an industry review is carried out by experts.

Industry review long overdue

"The last one done on the taxi industry was in 1994," he pointed out. 

It could take a couple of months to complete such a review once the consultants are hired.

Coun. Tim Outhit, who chairs the transportation committee, said he doesn't want the issue to drag on too much longer.

"I expected we were going to have some of the answers back to us by now," he said. "I hope we do try and move this along quickly."

Both the recommendation for mandatory decals and the request for an industry review need approval from regional council.