Bran­ding Bur­den

Le Messager Lachine & Dorval - - LOCAL NEWS - DA­VID COX da­vid.cox@tc.tc

TRANS­PORT. You have pro­ba­bly no­ti­ced them on the streets of Mon­treal. The 4,500 taxis have now a new look. Wed­nes­day, ma­ny cabs were at the air­port to launch the new bran­ding, consis­ting of white chas­sis with bright co­lo­red roofs and a «Bon­jour» lo­go on the sides, adop­ted in spring by the mu­ni­ci­pal ad­mi­nis­tra­tion.

Emu­la­ting other me­tro­po­li­tan ci­ties, the stan­dar­di­zed look of­fers a unique, Mon­trea­lon­ly style. With com­pe­ti­tion from ride sha­ring ser­vices like Uber and years of com­plaints, the new bran­ding is ano­ther in the long line of ef­forts to im­prove the per­cei­ved re­pu­ta­tion of the bu­si­ness.

In the last few years, taxi drivers have had a dress code im­po­sed, cus­to­mer ser­vice stan­dards rai­sed and more scru­ti­ny about their be­ha­vior. Aref Sa­lem, chair of Mon­treal Taxi Bu­reau, be­lieves they were ne­ces­sa­ry mea­sures.

«Taxi drivers serve as am­bas­sa­dors to tou­rists and the ma­keo­ver lends it­self to the image the ci­ty wants to por­tray,» says Sa­lem, who is al­so the ci­ty’s exe­cu­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber res­pon­sible for trans­por­ta­tion.

The drivers un­ders­tand what the new look is trying to ac­com­plish, but are up­set at how eve­ry new mea­sure is ano­ther po­thole to na­vi­gate.

«IT’S A WEIGHT ON OUR SHOULDERS»

There are ma­ny costs involved as drivers must have a brand new ve­hicle with the $1500 paint job, and the ci­ty has no plans to sub­si­dize ei­ther.

Driver An­toine Abou­jaoude likes the bran­ding idea, but is up­set that there is no help from the ci­ty with costs. «Al­ways more mo­ney and work for us. A new car, the paint job. It means at least $40,000 and we have our taxi per­mit to pay for as well,» he said. Du­ring the event, ma­ny drivers took the op­por­tu­ni­ty to voice their dis­plea­sure that Uber was still al­lo­wed to work at the air­port. Seeing that there were ma­ny ci­ty and Aé­ro­ports de Mont­réal (ADM) exe­cu­tives present, their com­plaints did not fall on deaf ears.

«We are a ser­vice pro­vi­der and must ca­ter to our clients,» sta­ted ADM’S Di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and so­cial res­pon­si­bi­li­ty Anne Mar­cotte. «Some vi­si­tors are used to the Uber ser­vice. But at the air­port we of­fer taxis a pri­vi­le­ged ac­cess on the ar­ri­vals floor. Uber can on­ly use the de­par­ture le­vel.»

Her words did lit­tle to al­le­viate the drivers’ wor­ries. They want the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion to push for a Uber ban at the air­port, ci­ting sa­fe­ty is­sues as well as the un­fair ad­van­tages it has by avoi­ding to heed the ri­go­rous rules they face.

(Pho­to: TC Me­dia – Josie Desmarais)

The lo­go is a po­si­tive bran­ding ef­fort, but not eve­ryone is ha­ving a good day.

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