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.