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Airport drivers vow to fight citys ban - Toronto Star

Airport limousine owners are considering all their options, including a court challenge, after Toronto City Council's decision to bar them from picking up passengers in Toronto after Feb. 1.

By: John Spears city hall bureau
Published on Fri Dec 14 2007

Airport limousine owners are considering all their options, including a court challenge, after Toronto City Council's decision to bar them from picking up passengers in Toronto after Feb. 1.

"We're not going to sleep," Louis Vittas said yesterday, speaking for the Airport Limousine Owners Association. "We'll be back."

Toronto cabs complain it's unfair they're not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, while limousines licensed by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority regularly pick up passengers in the city after delivering fares from the airport.

To even the playing field, Toronto plans to block airport limos from picking up passengers in the city. Council's decision on the issue was made late Wednesday night.

Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said he's not an expert in the long-running regulatory dispute between city and airport vehicles, but that empty vehicles aren't good for the environment. "If a car's going to deliver a passenger at the airport, they should then have the capacity to deliver a passenger downtown," Hartmann said in an interview.

"From an environmental perspective, the city should be saying: What can we do to ensure cars driving back and forth between the airport always have passengers in them?"

But Mayor David Miller said, "It's completely unfair that somebody who gets a licence in Mississauga can pick people up in Toronto, and not the other way around. That's not right. We have to protect the people who work for us."

Asked whether the result will be more greenhouse gas emissions, he called that "very unfair analysis," since Toronto cabs are already forced to return empty and their drivers struggle to make a living.

Airport limo companies will be able to apply for Toronto limo licences to operate in the city. But to qualify under city standards, the company must have one stretch limo for every five regular limos.

To meet that ratio, airport limo companies would need to add 44 stretch limos to the existing fleet.

Airport limo companies operate about 250 vehicles, Vittas said, with as many as three drivers per limo. Toronto has about 5,000 cabs, and 660 licensed limousines.

With files from Vanessa Lu 

http://www.thestar.com/news/2007/12/14/airport_drivers_vow_to_fight_citys_ban.html

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