How can I pay the right fare from Pearson Airport with the least hassle?
October 18, 2014 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I regularly get a taxi at Toronto Pearson Airport to my home in Toronto. There's a flat fare of $47, but if I just get into a cab, about one-third of the time the driver will try to charge me $55 (the rate for the center of downtown) or a meter fare (usually closer to $60). What's the best way to avoid this?

The fare is according to a flat rate ("Taxis and Limousines", Toronto Pearson International Airport) according to a map linked from that page ("Taxi Tariffs – East of the Airport", Greater Toronto Airports Authority). I live near College and Ossington, a $45 zone according to that map (plus $2 for current surcharge).

I've tried asking the driver what they will charge before getting into the cab. This actually leads to a disagreement even more often, partially because I think the cab drivers don't actually look up the fare when this happens. So I am definitely done with that approach.

This is usually at the end of a long day of international travel so I'm not in the mood to try to get the police involved, document for a report to the airport authority, or escalate in any other way. I just want to pay the correct fare with the least hassle and friction. I'm hoping there's some magic way of acting that will do this that I just haven't been able to figure out.

Some things I haven't tried yet that might help:
  1. Stating the fare to the driver myself before getting in the car, like "I'm going to College and Ossington. That is west of Bathurst and south of Bloor. The fare is $47, do you agree?"
  2. Printing out the fare map and bringing it with me, either asking the driver to find the fare on the map or to back up my statement of it.
  3. Just paying $55 but without a tip. (It's easy to tell when they are going to try to do the meter trick so I am less worried about that.)
posted by grouse to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a taxi coordinator at the airport who directs people which cab to get into? If so, what about asking them for assistance?

Also, no time like the present to send an emailed comment to the Toronto Taxi Alliance about this issue - they may be able to provide education to their members particularly if this is a long-running issue.

I'd also print a copy of the zone map and say "I'm going X, that is in the $45 zone. Sometimes there is uncertainty about that so I bring a map with me, do you want to see it?" and then get in the cab and go.
posted by arnicae at 9:38 AM on October 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

from my experience dealing with shady cab drivers in foreign countries, the best strategy is to agree on the fare before getting in the cab.
posted by empath at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've never been in an airport taxi that didn't have the fair zone map in the back seat which makes me wonder if you're grabbing cabs somewhere other than the formal taxi stand and getting picked up by drivers who aren't actually approved for airport runs? Or are getting picked up from the limo line rather than the taxi line, which makes basically a 0% difference in the service you receive, but is more expensive? Once they tell you it's $55, do they argue with you if you say the map shows you in the $47 fair zone?

As a solution, I'd suggest getting a card from Aerofleet or whatever company you prefer, and calling their reservation line when you get your bags. They'll assign a specific car to you and send it to pick you up at a slightly different post from the regular queues. If you're being treated like a mark by random cab drivers who pick you up (I have never had an issue like you describe) maybe booking a car through the reservation line will make it clear that you're a regular, valuable customer not to be messed with. It also gets you a 10% discount from most companies. You could likely verify the rate to your address while you're on the phone, as well, so you'd know for sure.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:15 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I found that it was more reliable to take a Limo, because the drivers were much easier to deal with and far, far nicer cars. I was living at Avenue and Davenport at the time and it was the same thing - some charged the correct $45, some tried to charge more (charge at the time - it seems to be more now). But going with point 1 before getting in became standard practice. If they don't agree, just take the next limo until they do.

Don't take cabs. Seriously. They just don't try hard enough for the identical service a Limo will give you.
posted by Brockles at 10:17 AM on October 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I hate cabs for just this reason. There's no personal accountability. Uber not only has relatively cheap fares, but the drivers and passengers are rated so everyone has an incentive to behave. If there's ever a problem with a fare, you can email Uber support and most of the time it'll be fixed right away.
posted by wnissen at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2014

You get in the car and say "$47 flat fare from the airport to X, right?"
posted by devnull at 10:51 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Uber is shady, but less shady than taxis. The "UberX" service usually offers lower fares than taxis and no tip required. You can get a quote for your Toronto pickup and destination points here.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:15 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take the limo. It's cheaper, and they know the zone map.
posted by scruss at 12:22 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

As someone who occasionally takes cabs from Pearson to a house that is half a block into the $24 zone (half a block closer would be cheaper), I can assure you, the cabbies have this map memorized down to the centimetre. They're not making a mistake, they're scamming you. If this ever happens again, don't tip and file a complaint,
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:33 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every time I've gotten a cab off the cab line at Pearson I've always played dumb and asked what the flat rate is and they've always looked it up. You can refuse a cab, complain to the wrangler and get another one.
I've found the airport limos to be a bit more expensive too, but not much. They're definitely flat rate.
posted by captaincrouton at 1:14 PM on October 18, 2014

Well, if you have the time and strength to spare, and not too much luggage, you can always try schlepping your baggage through to the TTC Airport Rocket Bus out of the Kipling Subway Station. Yes, Not the most convenient, but it is the best value for the money. Then you can flag a cab for the last bit from Ossington or Christie Station if required. I've done this a few times and it's a fine way to get there, but you have to be patient, and ready for a bit of exercise.

But for the usual late night or general tiredness, we'd always call an Airport Limo Service, never a cab.
posted by ovvl at 2:49 PM on October 18, 2014

This is not airport-specific advice but I find with cabbies they respect you if you're direct, confident, and succinct. If it were me, I would get in the cab and say "I'm going to College and Ossington please, in the $45 flat fare zone." Don't ask them if they agree, because you're not really asking, you're telling. If they need more detail about the location, they can ask or look it up. I take a lot of cabs and rarely have a problem once I figured this out.
posted by bleep at 2:53 PM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Totally take a limo. Nicer cars and they will always look up where they drop you on the zone map.
posted by machine at 4:58 PM on October 18, 2014

Agreed that you need to make sure you're only getting taxis from the designated area. And if you still have problems, file a complaint with the company and cc the airport authority. Pearson has very strict rules on who can pick up people in the airport and actually issue a specific airport license that's renewed every two years. I would suspect that complaints feed into that process.
posted by scrute at 11:10 AM on October 19, 2014

Just my contribution... I take the Airport taxi's (flat rate) to Dundas and Jarvis probably every other week and I've never had a problem. But then I always ask the rate when I get in as in "I'm going to Dundas and Jarvis, what's your rate?" And of course I am already paying the more expensive "Downtown" rate.

Good luck with whatever you figure out!
posted by cirhosis at 8:15 AM on October 20, 2014

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