Toronto, capital of the province of Ontario, is Canada’s largest city. It is also one of North America’s greatest urban centres, a major magnet to travellers drawn to its rich cultural life, unique tour experiences and great hotels. Despite its size, though, Toronto has a well-deserved reputation for being a friendly, down-to-earth and safe place that’s internationally regarded as progressive and forward thinking. Accordingly, its residents can lay claim to a number of citywide initiatives designed to promote environmental awareness, including City Hall’s own Live Green Toronto scheme.
Now, one Toronto native has taken it upon himself to extend the wider green agenda even further by offering visitors to his city a more ecologically friendly alternative to existing Toronto transport options.
Steven Frei, a former business analyst at the Toronto Stock Exchange, founded his company, Eco Taxi, in 2007, originally operating under the name Green Limousine. Having been inspired by Tim Flannery’s seminal text The Weather Makers and E. O. Wilson‘s The Future of Life, he set out to make hybrid taxis on the streets of Toronto a reality.
Despite initial resistance from City Hall, Frei partnered with a group of independent drivers and succeeded in getting a fleet of Toyota Priuses certified as taxis. Today, the successful company continues to help Toronto locals and out-of-towners reduce their carbon footprints. Each Eco Taxi vehicle emits less than 50% of the carbon dioxide typically produced by the gas-guzzlers and high carbon-emission cars often used by the city’s other taxi services.
The involvement of drivers at the senior management level is another a point of significant pride for Eco Taxi and adds to the stability and direction of the business. The company’s drivers all own and operate their own vehicles, further buttressing their pride in the company’s reputation for quality customer services and providing more economic security than might be the case for shift workers in other transfer companies.
Collaboration with the local community is yet another important component of Eco Taxi’s work. Frei has taken time to discuss the risks of climate change in several of Toronto’s public schools and hopes to be able to increase this type of activity as the company matures.
Now, Eco Taxi is partnering with Green Path Transfers, the first global environmentally friendly transfer service, as the local partner for Toronto. As part of an international network of local operators, Eco Taxi will be contributing to more than the environmental sustainability of its home city but has become part of a concerted global effort to reduce emissions generated by transfers.
“I’m very excited to by partnering with Green Path Transfers,” said Frei. “It’s great to have the opportunity to join likeminded businesses and people across the globe, working toward a worthy goal, using a smart business model.”
“With such a strong track record in eco-friendly transport, having Eco Taxi join the Green Path Transfers network was a natural choice,” commented Adrian Cordiner, CEO of Green Path Transfers. “We’re very excited to work with them and are proud to promote Eco Taxi as our exclusive partner for Toronto.”
One final advantage to be gained from travelling with EcoTaxi is the strength of the drivers’ knowledge about Toronto. Frei likes to recommend the popular Kensington Markets and the Toronto Islands, but for a slice of genuine Toronto life he tips Roncesvalles Avenue in Roncesvalles Village, which recently won a CBC (radio) contest that asked listeners to vote on Ontario’s favourite street/road.
With the rebranding from Green Limousine to Eco Taxi now nearly complete and the company’s inclusion in the Green Path Transfers network, the road ahead certainly looks good for Eco Taxi. By offering a green transfer solution to visitors to the city of Toronto, the company is doing its part to improve quality of life, not just in its own city but for our pale blue dot as a whole.