What Colour for Montreal’s Taxis?

New York is yellow, London black, Hong Kong red (and green and blue, but let’s not complicate things). What colour will Montreal be? After years of wrangling with the taxi commission, Montreal’s government has finally reached an agreement that will see all of the city’s taxis adopt a uniform livery. The transition could be complete within six years. At this point, however, nobody has yet decided on what that livery will look like.

You might think that the colour of a city’s taxis is something trivial. You’d be wrong. With 4,500 licenced taxis in Montreal — about one for every 400 people, a denser concentration than many cities, including cab-crazy New York — they represent one of the city’s most ubiquitous pieces of design. Since taxis are always passing by, how they look affects how the city as a whole looks, and their livery can become the city’s most easily-identifiable visual symbol.

There are a handful of cities whose taxi liveries have become inextricably tied to their civic sense of self. New York and its yellow cabs is the most obvious example, but there’s also Madrid, which has white taxis with a red stripe, and Tokyo, whose green-and-yellow and sky-blue-and-grey-checkers taxis once inspired a line of Nike shoes. Though its taxi liveries vary from company to company, Toronto has a surprising penchant for bright oranges, reds and yellows.

So what about Montreal? My suggestion: hot pink, a colour originally proposed in the cheeky first issue of Urbania magazine, back in 2003. It would suit the city’s flamboyance and eccentricity and be an uplifting contrast to the sullen winters. Bangkok, with its rainbow-hued taxis (fluorescent pink, lime green, candy orange) could serve as inspiration.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Saturday February 20 2010at 05:02 am , filed under Art and Design, Canada, Transportation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “What Colour for Montreal’s Taxis?”

  • C. Szabla says:

    Tokyo’s taxis actually don’t have one distinct color scheme – but some of the cab companies have come up with particularly wild designs, which might explain where Nike found its inspiration. Actually, the most uniform thing about Tokyo’s taxis (beyond their expense) is probably the white gloves worn by drivers.

    I second (third?) hot pink for Montreal, though. What better way for American tourists to arrive at Club Supersexe?

  • Matt says:

    DC’s cabs don’t have a standard livery, but the handful of DC cab companies generally have their own liveries (like Tokyo, I guess?), so the cab scene here is pretty distinctive in its own way. There’s an HK red cab look alike and a so-hideous-its-beautiful orange and black combo for instance. The situation is even more fun in DC’s Maryland and Virginia suburbs, where the state-side cab companies also have distinctive looks, creating something weirdly similar to HK, with different cab colors for inner city and suburbs. (IE, when I get off the metro to come home late nights in MD, I usually end up in a pale blue cab, owned by a company that does no pick-ups in the city proper.)

  • Marc says:

    Who said it has to be solid colours? How about the official tartan of the City of Montreal?