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Sunday, June 6, 2010

King of the Toronto Cabs

King of the cabs This man dominates Toronto's taxi industry. He is Mitch Grossman.

IT HAS BEEN said that no one gets rich in the cab business. But that was before Mitch Grossman's family came along.

In his tailored suits and year-round tan, Grossman has the look of a Bay Street executive or the owner of a successful software company.

But he is neither. Grossman is the king of the Toronto taxi industry, heir to an empire that lifted his family from poverty to privilege in a single generation.

At 40, Grossman lives a life no cabby could dream of. He drives a black BMW 740 IL, list price $93,000. He lives in a newly bought North York luxury home. His last house, where he lived for years as Mayor Mel Lastman's next-door neighbour, was purchased without a mortgage.

Grossman has never driven a cab. And even though there are at least 62 taxis in his companies' names, he admits he doesn't actually own any of them - at least in the usual sense of the word.

Yet he has made millions from the cab business.


Grossman's fortune is based on cab licences, the postcard-size pieces of metal attached to the trunk of every Toronto taxi. Although they cost pennies to make, cab licences are worth $90,000 apiece today.

They fetch that kind of price because they are money-makers. They are supposed to be a licence to own and operate a taxi. Instead, most have been turned into cash cows, yielding their holders $800 to $1,200 a month.

And no one has more plates than Grossman.

According to municipal and corporate records obtained by The Star, Grossman and other members of his family, including cousins, hold 94 cab plates. At today's prices, those plates would sell for $8.46 million and yield gross annual rents of more than $1.1 million.

Until recently, the family's collection was far larger - as high as 145 plates, according to municipal transfer records examined by The Star. Those records show that Grossman, his mother and sister have sold 51 plates since 1993.

For years, the list of plate holders has been confidential. And as The Star learned after getting the list, unravelling who owns what can be complex.

Grossman, for example, doesn't have a single plate listed in his name, yet municipal records as of May show he held at least 70 through five corporations: Robinhood Taxi Ltd., Lo-Jo Holdings Ltd., Mitch and Associates Taxi Ltd., Whitedoor Cab Ltd., and 373031 Ontario Ltd. (Grossman says the records are outdated and he owns only 62 plates.)

Twenty-four more plates are held by his mother, sister and a cousin, again through named and numbered corporations.

Grossman's power in the cab industry is magnified by his role as the city's single biggest "designated agent," representing at least 172 plates owned by other people.

Agents are middlemen who manage plates, allowing holders to collect rents without any involvement with the cabs that carry their names, or the drivers who operate them.

Grossman plays a much more active role in the business than most. As well as being Toronto's biggest plate holder, he is also the operator of a number of companies, including Royal Taxi, one of the largest dispatch services in the city.

Grossman's operation is on Sherbourne St., south of Queen. Outside his office is a constantly changing line of used cars available for sale. Many are used police cruisers, the vehicle that has become almost standard issue in the Toronto taxi fleet.

Used cars are just one component of Grossman's operation. He also owns a service station, a towing company (Hallam Garage), a lease operation (Tudor Leasing) and a finance company (Symposium Financial and Management Services).

Grossman's cab plates ensure a steady stream of customers. Without a plate, a cabby can't operate a car - and plates are the only essential ingredient in limited supply.

You can get a car, a radio or a meter anywhere. But if you need a plate, the options are few.

As the man who controls close to 10 per cent of the city's entire plate supply, Grossman wields considerable power.

As cabby Surinder Kumar puts it: "If you want to work, you have to play his game. You have no choice."

For Kumar, the plate game has been a losing proposition. He became a cabby after he lost his factory job when the company folded. Now, he finds himself trapped, forced to pay a huge percentage of his fares to lease a piece of tin riveted to the trunk of his car.

"The plate system is a rip-off," says Kumar. "You can't win . . . A cab driver doesn't have a life. I see my wife in the morning and that's it. I leave in the dark, I come home in the dark."

Grossman spoke recently to The Star. At his office, which is decorated with family photos, he described himself as an above-board businessman whose greatest pleasure is watching his three young sons play sports.

"We want our side of the story told," he says. "We take our industry seriously . . . My job is to make my drivers money. I hope my peers also recognize this as their job function."

Although he could probably live off his plates without working, Grossman says he goes to the office each day out of pride and because his father trained him to work.

"My father was a proud man," he says. "Nobody gave him anything. He taught me his values."

It's clear there is a lot of money to be made in Grossman's various operations. According to cabbies interviewed by The Star, getting one of Grossman's plates usually requires joining his dispatch service, at $400 a month.

Then there is financing. Cabby Mohammed Hoque showed The Star a sales agreement for a used taxi bought from one of Grossman's companies. The contract included interest charges that worked out to 28.3 per cent annually.


Many drivers voiced complaints about their dealings with agents who handle leased plates. Many said they had to make under-the-table cash payments to get a plate.

Grossman refuses to comment on specifics of his dealings with individual drivers, but confirms the existence of under-the-table payments.

"I know it happens in the business, but I don't do it," he says. "It's wrong."

Asked if his company charges interest rates of 20 per cent and more, Grossman says he "couldn't believe it would be that high.

"It's hard for me to say whether it's true or false without knowing . . . the business etiquette involved."

Grossman says offering cars and financing to drivers is a service: "The average cab driver can't walk into a bank and get a loan for a car. That's why we have cars for sale . . . We're helping people get started." Although many believe rents paid to plate holders have damaged the Toronto cab fleet by discouraging investment, Grossman disagrees.

While he concedes the fleet is in poor condition, he says plate leasing isn't the cause. "Plate leasing is a mirage," he says. "It's got nothing to do with anything."

Grossman says the real problem is bad law-making and weak enforcement that allows old cars and unlicensed taxis to stay on the road.

"There are a lot of rogue drivers out there," he says.

Grossman says the way to get old cars off the road is to institute age restrictions for cabs.

Not everyone sees it the same way. Numerous studies have identified plate leasing as a fundamental economic problem. Many connected with the industry say the rents paid to plate holders make it impossible to pay for better cars.

Carol Ruddell-Foster, who heads the Toronto Licensing Commission, says it is "hypocritical" for plate holders to say the cab fleet could be fixed simply by instituting age restrictions for cabs.

"It's easy for them to to say, because they won't be the ones paying for it," she says. "The money they take out means nobody can afford better cars."

In the Toronto cab business, a plate is the equivalent of the Holy Grail. Drivers spend decades waiting for one. A plate can mean the difference between a comfortable life and servitude.

The licensing commission issues plates for $5,681. But there is a catch: It is almost impossible to get one that way.

The supply of available plates has been declining for years. Many are passed along by plate holders to their heirs - as in the case of Grossman and members of his family.

Few return their plates to the city. Instead, they are sold on the open market to the highest bidder. Increasingly, this has put plates in the hands of wealthy investors and multiple plate holders instead of working drivers, since few could afford $90,000 to buy one.

Nor are there any newly minted plates available.

Plate holders, including both working drivers and plate tycoons, have successfully lobbied against the issuing of any new ones, since that would reduce the value of their plates.

No new plates have been approved for issue since 1993. The wait for one is now estimated to be at least 20 years. Some drivers have died before their names came to the top of the list.


As a result of this restricted supply, the rents charged by plate holders have soared, even though cab industry revenues have fallen, owing to the advent of fax machines and courier services.

Today, the average cost of renting a plate is $1,000 a month -an amount that can represent 30 to 50 per cent of a driver's revenue.

Many drivers told The Star they find themselves trapped in a cycle of declining revenues and increasing costs, forced to pay a large percentage of their earnings to private interests that have gained control of municipal licences.

"This plate is government property," says Kumar. "Why does one man get to have so many plates, while another man has to work his whole life for nothing?"

At the root of the mess is a heavily abused bit of legislation known as Bylaw 20-85.

The bylaw is supposed to ensure a person who gets a Toronto cab plate actually owns a cab and takes care of it. But, as The Star learned, countless Toronto "taxicab owners" are owners in name alone.

Here is how it works with many drivers:

To lease a plate, a cabby has to sign over the ownership of his car to the plate holder.

Transferring the ownership means the name on the car and the plate match, allowing the plate holders to claim it is a complete taxi, not just a plate, that they are offering for rent.

For drivers, this means they don't have title to the cars they pay for and maintain.

It also means many are forced to pay dramatically more for their insurance.

Since they don't legally own their cars, they have to pay "fleet" rates, which are far higher than the rate for owner-driven cars.

Cabby Mohammed Hoque, for example, had an insurance policy that cost him $825 a month (or $9,900 a year), yet carried a $10,000 deductible - and didn't cover him when his car was stolen.

In the Toronto cab industry, there is almost no one who hasn't heard of the Grossman family. For decades, their name has been synonymous with the business - and with cab plates.

Grossman's plate collection came from his father, Sam, who got into the cab business in the '40s and began collecting cab licences a short time later.

Grossman's father and his brother-in-law, Irving Oilgisser, assembled what is by all accounts the biggest collection of plates in Toronto history.

Although they weren't particularly valuable when Grossman and Oilgisser began collecting them, the plates later became far more valuable as the practice of leasing grew, allowing holders to use them as investments.

Mitch Grossman says his father "had a vision" of the potential in cab plates.

"My dad was a very intelligent man," he says. "He was always having visions.

"My father worked hard for everything he got. Nobody ever gave him anything for nothing."


According to municipal records obtained by The Star, Grossman and Oilgisser held 145 plates:

Ninety-four were listed in the names of Grossman and Oilgisser family members or corporations they controlled as of May. Transfer records show that family members and corporations they controlled had sold 51 others.

Sam Rampersad, a plate owner and agent, puts it this way: "The Kennedys were in booze, the Grossmans were in plates. That's the way it is."

As heir to his father's fortune, Mitch Grossman was considered the cab industry's crown prince in waiting.

His mid-'80s wedding was the industry's power event of the decade, with no expense spared.

The wedding and the preceding stag clearly illustrated the extent of the family's influence.

On hand were hundreds of cabbies, plate owners, suppliers, mechanics - anyone who had reason to curry favour.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Toronto Pearson International Airport - GTAA

Taxis & Limousines

The GTAA licences 360 taxis and 276 limousines to serve Toronto Pearson, ensuring that vehicles meet specific safety requirements, and that passengers are guaranteed fair and consistent rates. Rates are predetermined based on the time and distance to your destination within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Fares for taxis outside of the GTA are listed on the Out-of-Town Tariff map, and any area that is not listed on this tariff will be $1.45/km for taxis, or $1.55/km for limousines. For current rates, click on one of the zone maps below.

Effective August 1, 2009 the average price per litre of regular gasoline over a successive 90-day period is between $0.91 - $1.19 representing a Fuel Surcharge of $1.00 per trip. For more information about tariffs, click here.

Pre-booking is not required for passengers leaving the airport. Taxis and limos are always available at the Arrivals Level of each terminal. For pre-arranged service, click here.

Special Assistance
The GTAA offers a convenient waiting area for passengers requiring special assistance.

Excess Luggage Protocol
Taxis and limousines are prohibited from carrying luggage in the cabin of the vehicle. If luggage exceeds the 15 cubic feet trunk capacity for taxis, or the 20 cubic feet capacity for limousines, passengers have the following options:

  • Utilize two vehicles – a two vehicle fare will be charged.
  • See the curbside dispatcher to arrange for a van – a $12 surcharge will apply.
  • Request that the driver utilize a bungee cord – a $12 surcharge will apply.

Contact Information for Taxi and Limousine Services
Taxis and limousines that pick up passengers in municipal jurisdictions must be licensed in that jurisdiction. Contact the taxi or limousine service provider of your choice to confirm that they are licensed to provide pick-up service in your area.

Inquiries or Concerns?
Please address any inquiries or concerns to the GTAA Commercial Vehicle Operations at (416) 776-9867.

Taxi Fares Going Up In Toronto, As City Council Approves Hike

The rising cost of gas may be prompting you to leave your car at home in the morning, but for those who drive for a living that's not an option.

Cab drivers across the city have been feeling the pain at the pumps more than most, often having to absorb the higher prices themselves. But they're about to feel some relief, after Toronto city council voted to increase their fares.

The initial pick-up fee will bump from $3 to $4.

The meter rate is also going up. It used to be $0.25 each 170 metres, now it's going to be a quarter for every 155 metres travelled.

What that means for passengers is that a five kilometre trip rises in price from about $10 to $11.75.

Those asked on city streets how it'd affect their decision to take a taxi were for the most part supportive of cab drivers' woes.

"They have to make a living," Marc Rougeot noted. "You can't keep assuming the cost without being able to live properly."

Jen Garden adds, "I think that (will) probably have an influence on how much I'll be tipping. I tend to recognize the gas cost money and I try to treat the drivers nicely. (But) if they increase the fare, I'll probably not tip quite as much."

Cab drivers, many of whom own their own vehicles and must pay to fuel and maintain them, say this fare bump is essential.

"It will help us because the gas prices are going very high day by day," taxi driver Ehsan Danish says. "It's very necessary."

The increases are expected to take effect in mid-July. Meanwhile, airport limousine fares are reportedly also going up. As of August 24, Pearson International Airport passengers will pay more to get to the transit hub. The higher fees will be based on fuel costs averaged over 90-day periods. Depending on the amount, the cost of a ride will rise or fall. Additionally, drivers can charge $2 extra based on current fuel prices and up to $5 extra if gas spikes to the $1.80-$2 per litre range.

At the start of the year it cost cabbies about $1 a litre for regular fuel - now that same grade of gas is going for upwards of $1.30 a litre.

2008/06/25 | Staff

Royal Taxi Fares - Toronto

ABOUT ROYAL TAXI - Page 2 of 2
Head Office

620 Wilson Avenue
Suite 100
Toronto, ON
M3K 1Z3.

York Region Office

9078 Leslie St
Unit 1
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4B 3I8


24 hours a day, 365 days per year

Employees: .

Over 60 internal staff members
Fleet: Over 500 taxis, 40 wheelchair accessible vans, 15 school vehicles, 10 limousines and 1 limousine van. For more information on our fleet, click here.
Response Time: Average of 10 minutes or less for a regular sedan taxi and 15 minutes or less for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, weather/traffic conditions permitting.
Service Area: Greater Toronto Area (GTA.), York Region including Markham and Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket and the Surrounding Areas .
Out of Area: Service available upon request.

Price Model:

The Toronto Licensing Commission outlines the tariffs for taxi fares as follows:

(1) The ride is free if the taxi meter is not on
(2) Price is based on distance for 1-4 passengers.
          For the first .235 kilometers or part thereof $ 2.75
          For each additional .190 kilometers or part thereof $ 0.25
          For each additional passenger in access of four (4) $ 0.25
          For each 31 seconds of waiting time while under engagement $ 0.25
(3) Minimum for parcel delivery $10.00
(4) G.S.T. is included in each fare

The rates are subject to change without notice as legislated by the Municipal Licensing and Standards Department for the City of Toronto. For more information on Fares, click here.

All vehicles are individually insured by their owners and carry insurance for public liability in the amount of two million dollars. In addition, Royal Taxi maintains various insurance policies for a variety of perils and risks including public liability insurance for five (5) million.

Lost and Found:
We maintain computer files to process any lost and found claims our customers may have. We are quite successful in retrieving lost articles including valuable documents and packages.

Customer Complaints and/or Inquires
The management team immediately handles any complaint received within 24 hours. All complaints are fully investigated and recorded on our computer database. Computer records are maintained for all complaints and include details regarding the nature of the complaint, the individuals involved and the disciplinary action taken. Disciplinary meetings are held with the staff member and/or driver involved to determine whether or not the individual involved requires additional training, discipline and/or dismissal. Following each disciplinary meeting, we contact the individual who filed the complaint to advise of the action taken and the changes to our processes to ensure that there is not a reoccurrence.

We are constantly analyzing, developing and implementing technology that will enable us to continue meeting our customer service initiatives. We are currently using Bell Canada's Nortel PBX Meridian Option 11 with ACD software and TAPI server applications in conjunction with Odessey a customized dispatch software package. In addition, we use five radio frequencies to distribute and dispatch the orders received in our call center. Although it is beyond our current scope to describe our computerized system in great detail, we would like to outline the essential benefits which include an uninterrupted quality of performance, an efficient operation, increased productivity, detailed on-line stats and a peaceful working environment. We would be pleased to give you a tour of our facility and to explain the benefits of our technology in more detail.

We are currently in the implementation process of a state of the art GPS driven dispatch technology with full computer tracking of all of our vehicles. This technology is one of a kind in the city of Toronto and will crown Royal Taxi with companies around the world. Full implementation is expected before years end at which time clients will be able to:

  • Access Royal Dispatch by the Internet

  • Get their invoices online

  • Provide a total environment.

We offer an invoicing system to suit every company's individual needs. Our accounting department promptly and accurately records all your company's travel for each month. The instance there is a question regarding a billing charge we will immediately resolve the matter in an expedient and efficient manner. Customized and/or departmentalized billing is also available upon request. We experience very few problems in Statement Reconciliation despite our very large volume of taxi chits/coupons. Our margin of error is less than 0.03% (i.e. 1 in every 3000 taxi chits/coupons). We attribute our success to our well-trained staff members, our checking processes, our strict procedures and our overcharge prevention programs.

Employee Training
At Royal Taxi, we are very sensitive to drivers' continuous training. 

Initial Training: In addition to the standard taxi driver's training provided by Toronto Licensing, Royal Taxi provides monthly in-house training classes for all of its drivers. Our Training courses are focused on:

  • Customer Service

  • Sensitivity

  • Special needs

  • Corporate Needs

  • Safety

  • Emergency procedures

Our drivers are by far the best trained in the city. 

Refresher courses are offered for all drivers once a year, and retraining courses are provided as necessary for those drivers who have been ordered to attend retraining classes by management following customer complaints or misconduct.

Vehicle Maintenance
Royal Taxi a leader in fleet maintenance and vehicle inspection has gained a lot of support from its clientele for the mandatory vehicle inspection program. Our computer system selects, at random, ten vehicles per day for a complete visual and mechanical inspection.

  • The selected vehicles are obliged to come to our head office where a member of our management team conducts a 27-point inspection.

  • Any vehicle failing the inspection must undergo repairs immediately. After the repairs are done the vehicle is re-inspected by our management team before clearance is granted.

  • Our computerized system keeps a history of the vehicles condition, inspection failures and repairs and generates a profile for that particular vehicle.

  • In addition to our random inspections, Royal Taxi has a team of road inspectors who are on the road daily. Their job is to report to management any vehicle and or driver concerns.

We are proud of our Fleet.

Independent Contractors:
Royal Taxi Inc., operates as a call centre receiving and processing service calls 24-hours per day, 7 days a week. As such, Royal taxi does not own or operate any vehicles. Vehicles are owned and operated by independent contractors who are members of Royal's Call Centre.
Independent Contractors join Royal Taxi's Call Centre facilities, because Royal operates the most advanced call centre in the city.

The pride of vehicle ownership and the small business status of our independent contractors, makes them more responsible towards service and the maintenance of their vehicle.

Toronto taxi fares: know how much it'll cost before you jump in..

I just came across a pretty groovy website that mashes up google maps with a simple calculator to give you an estimate of how much taxicab rides will cost!  It is applicable to a few cities and includes toronto!  Nice. 

So if you're kinda into the host of the party but would also like to sleep in your own bed, you can make the decision soundly on how much cash is in your wallet! (or something like that ;) )

Toronto Water Taxi

Toronto water taxi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Toronto water taxis operate in the Canadian city of Toronto as an alternate form of transportation to and from the Toronto Islands.



[edit] Operations and Restrictions

Unlike the city run ferry service, water taxis are privately run and cost more to cover the same distance. The taxis offer services to those who are stranded on the Islands when ferry service is disrupted or ended or to patrons whom have missed boarding their cruise ships at various docks along the mainland. Inner taxis normally offer services within the inner harbour only.[1]

Like the ferries, the taxis do not operate during the winter months as the inner harbour is frozen and no ships can navigate in the waterway.

[edit] Operators

Water taxis are not licensed like land based taxis, rather they are regulated by boating regulations and required operator to be a licensed motor boat operator and have required life jackets for all occupants.

[edit] Vesseels

Taxi sizes vary from small boats carrying a few passengers to larger vessels carrying 10 or more passengers.

Toronto Taxi

Crown Taxiby freddie18

Taking a cab in Toronto is as easy as 1-2-3. There are a host of cab companies in Toronto, but all charge the same base rate of about $4 and charge $0.25 for each additional 0.17 kilometre or $0.40 $0.50 a minute. The easiest cab number to remember is 416-Taxicab, which will connect you to all taxi and airport limousine companies.

Toronto taxi cab fare from Pearson airport to downtown is usually about $50. Standard flat rates to and from the airport are also available. In the downtown area, Toronto taxis can be waved down on the street easily. Some of the taxis in Toronto are: Beck Taxi, City Taxi, Co-op Taxi, Crown Taxi, Diamond Taxi, and Royal Taxi.

Theme: Car/Motor Home
Phone: 416-TAXICAB