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Norfolk orders local taxis to spruce up their fleets

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Delhi Taxi is among the firms in Norfolk preparing themselves for new regulations governing the condition of local taxis. Owners Adam Bright, left, and Rob Dow recently added a couple late-model hybrids to their fleet.  MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Delhi Taxi is among the firms in Norfolk preparing themselves for new regulations governing the condition of local taxis. Owners Adam Bright, left, and Rob Dow recently added a couple late-model hybrids to their fleet. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

DELHI, ON - 

Norfolk residents aren’t imagining things: There has been a noticeable improvement in taxi service in recent months.

Not only are there more providers to choose from, the quality of the vehicles is improving too.

That is due, in part, to new rules and regulations shared with the taxi industry in 2016. Under the new framework, Norfolk County has given local providers till next April to modernize their fleets.

The new guidelines state that vehicles must be retired next spring if they are eight years old or more and have travelled more than 350,000 kilometres.

Exemptions will be made for older vehicles with fewer than 350,000 kilometres if they are clean, rust-free and in good condition.

“The taxi industry has been great working with us to date so we don’t foresee any issues,” Norfolk clerk Andy Grozelle said this week.

“Ultimately, we want the cars and drivers to be clean and welcoming. I don’t think there is any desire to bring standards up radically. However, newer vehicles are generally safer and there can be positive economic and tourism impacts from increasing the standards around the taxi industry as long as it is done in a manner that supports the industry and does not place undue financial costs upon it.”

This is a departure from the way it used to be. When there were only a handful of providers in the local area, companies kept the same vehicles on the road for decades at a time through regular maintenance and drive-train replacement. New vehicles were rare enough to be startling and noteworthy.

Today, there are eight companies in Norfolk County representing a total of 34 licences.

Delhi Taxi is among the firms that has embraced this drive for modernization. Delhi Taxi recently added two late-model Toyota hybrids to its fleet.

Rob Dow and Adam Bright, owners of Delhi Taxi, say the Prius and Camry are good for business as well as the environment. The hybrids get twice the miles from a tank of gas as a standard sedan. They also provide a comfortable ride.

As their fleet expands, the pair intends to add more hybrids.

“As part of the transportation industry, we feel the need to be environmentally conscious,” Dow said this week.

“This is the future of transportation. They already have fully-electric big rigs now.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com