They’re famously yellow in New York, black in London and green in Mexico City—but what colour will Montreal’s taxis be? A new agreement between the city and its cabbies could see a standard livery adopted for thousands of taxis, which Helen Fotopulos, Montreal’s executive committee member for culture, heritage and design, calls “ambassadors of the city.”
Like in other major Canadian cities, Montreal’s cabs are a hodgepodge of colour. “Most people who drive taxis in Quebec also own [the vehicle],” says Mario Sabourin of the Travailleurs autonomes du Québec. Size restrictions determine which models can be used, but “cars can be any colour at all,” he says. That may now change—and a uniform shade isn’t the only possible change in store for Montreal’s taxi industry. There are efforts to make the vehicles more environmentally friendly (in-car heaters will be installed so cars stay warm in the winter without idling), and standardized, too (a new MTL logo will appear on taxis and at taxi stands). In return, cabbies will be able to advertise on roof-mounted panels, providing them with a new revenue stream.
A committee of officials and industry representatives will meet this spring to talk about adopting a standard look for Montreal’s taxis; because the cabs are privately owned, the city “can’t decree a colour,” Fotopulos says, so consensus must be reached. Matt Soar, a professor of communication studies at Concordia University, thinks it could be a great branding opportunity for Montreal. “They could become logos of the city,” he says. (Soar suggests painting standard cabs grey, and hybrid taxis “a vibrant green.”) And in a recent blog post, writer Christopher DeWolf suggested painting Montreal’s estimated 4,500 licensed taxis hot pink, which “would suit the city’s flamboyance and eccentricity and be an uplifting contrast to the sullen winters.”