LivingTravelAre Montreal Taxis Safe?

Are Montreal Taxis Safe?

October 30, 2014 | by Evelyn Reid – Montreal taxi safety recently came under scrutiny when media reports of sexual indecency and sexual assault surfaced in the summer, followed by a shocking revelation in September 2014 that Montreal taxi drivers were missing. uniformly subject to mandatory criminal background checks.

To quote a CTV Montreal report, “there is a law in force that says” no person can obtain, keep or renew a taxi driver’s permit if the person has been convicted in the last five years of an indictable or criminal offense “, but There is not a province-wide standard for background checks, so the ‘law does not apply.

Finally, another wave of reports of sexual assault came in October after a woman who claimed to have been attacked by a taxi driver the previous Saturday contacted local radio station CJAD to tell her story.


Are Montreal Taxis Safe?

Montreal Police Commander Ian Lafrenière seems to believe it, citing that Montreal’s 12,000 taxi drivers make approximately 37 million trips a year and that among them, only 29 reported sexual assaults in 2013.


Reported Vs Reality

The problem is that anyone who has taken the time out of their busy lives to delve into North America’s rape culture beyond reported numbers quickly discovers that “reported” cases of sexual assault account for only a fraction of the population. reality . According to Statistics Canada, only 10% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Despite this eerily low reporting rate, Lafrenière has a point that the risk of being raped in a Montreal taxi is quite low, theoretically at least.

If one estimated the “real” number of sexual assaults by adjusting 10% of reported rapes to reflect the reality of 100%, then approximately 290 sexual assaults occur annually on 37 million trips.

So it can be concluded that the chance of being a victim of sexual assault in a Montreal taxi is approximately 8 in 1 million trips. Push the math even further (divide 37 million taxi rides by 365 days, then apply the estimate of 290 sexual assaults / year to that number) and that equates to roughly 8 sexual assaults with guest guests in Montreal taxis every 10 days. . That is not far from an assault every day. Lafrenière notes that those 29 reported sexual assaults in 2013 are among the more than 1,500 reported sexual assaults in Montreal annually. * *


Even if the risk is low, is there anything I can do to increase my safety?

Following media reports of the recent spate of alleged sexual assaults, Montreal Police responded to requests for guidance by recommending:

  • that women avoid taking taxis alone, especially if they are drunk, specifying that women should reduce their alcohol consumption accordingly to maintain a form of control,
  • that women order a taxi using the telephone instead of hauling one off the street, and
  • that women get used to taking a photo of the driver’s identification card when entering a taxi, which is usually located to the left of the driver’s head.

These recommendations caused an uproar with the public, as well as select media experts who accused the Montreal Police of blaming the victims, of implying that women who fail to take these measures are acting irresponsibly, without any apparent mention. in the very breath of attacking the police. ROOT of the problem, bullies, without explicit mention of requiring immediate mandatory criminal background checks on every Montreal taxi driver who has not been properly screened .

Why the obvious lack of proper policing was not addressed in the first place, as an immediate priority is distressing, offensive, and lacking in practical consideration.

The above ‘recommendations’, coupled with the government’s obvious approval of who should do background checks to begin with, only serve to further fuel a culture of rape that leaves women in supposedly free countries to completely change their lifestyles and restricting their everyday movements to the point of oppressive absurdity rather than disempowering predators by putting the responsibility on government and law enforcement IMMEDIATELY and properly enforcing the letter of the law with mandatory criminal background checks, as is done in countless other cities.

NOVEMBER 16, 2014 UPDATE: About two months after the scandal broke, Transport Quebec and the city of Montreal finally announced that taxi drivers will now have to undergo criminal background checks, as per Section 26 of the Taxi Act.


My solution to reduce risks

A word. Uber I love Uber’s on-demand taxi dispatch service and have been using it religiously since its debut in Montreal in November 2013. Why? For its transparency and responsibility.

There is no need to “take a picture” of the driver’s credential, as the application maintains a detailed record of the driver, including his photo, the route of the trip and the exact amount paid for future reference.

Drivers and customers can even classify each other, alerting prospective customers and drivers of any potential issues. According to Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin, “Rides on the platform are not anonymous: riders know who their drivers are and drivers know who their driver is, including their ratings. In addition to users who have to create a profile with a credit card for a perfect experience, each receipt has a record of the travel route and passengers can even share their ETA with friends.


My other solution to reduce the risk was declared illegal

And as of October 28, 2014, Uber introduced its UberX service in Montreal, to the ire of taxi companies and even the city council. A service that offers residents who are not taxi drivers every day the opportunity to earn some extra money from their cars while giving Uber customers the option to save between 20% and 30% on the regular rate of taxi calling non-professional drivers, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre denounced the UberX service as illegal. But here’s the irony. Uber’s UberX service claims that it requires each and every driver to undergo what is arguably the most stringent and comprehensive criminal background check imposed on the market.

Uber X’s background check procedure is also claimed to be more thorough than for its regular Uber service with professional drivers.

If an allegedly illegal service can claim to coordinate the most comprehensive criminal background check on the market, why weren’t competing taxi companies and our government able to do the same until it was publicly embarrassed?


More about Uber and Montreal taxis

  • How to join Uber
  • Montreal Taxis: Who to Call, Where to Complain


* Important note: it is difficult to extrapolate a clear estimate of how many actual sexual assaults occur in taxis. Although I used Statistics Canada’s 10% sexual assault reporting rate as the basis for my calculations, it is quite possible that the reporting rate is higher with sexual assaults that occur in taxis, reducing the extent of my guest. It has been proposed multiple times that victims of sexual assault who know their assailant are less likely to report the crime, hence my speculation that it may have overestimated the prevalence of sexual assault in taxis.

Why? Chances are high that a taxi driver is a stranger to the victim.

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