Taxi meters

Taxi meters

The Passenger Transportation Act (Act) authorizes the Passenger Transportation Board (Board) to set rules, policies, and licence terms and conditions for taxi meter use and standards. This page provides information about taxi meter types and usage in BC and includes links to other taxi meter resources.

Taxi meters help to ensure transparency regarding rates, especially to passengers, and the Board’s taxi meter requirements ensure that drivers and passengers are protected. The Board’s Rates Rule – Taxi Meters Rule details requirements for the use of all taxi meters in BC, including accuracy and testing standards.

Taxi meters are also important to ensure trip-level data is recorded and reported under the Board’s Data Requirements(495 KB) to which all taxi licensees must adhere. 

Relevant legislation

  • Section 7(1)(g) of the Act provides authority for the Board to make Rates Rules.
  • Section 23(2)(a) of the Act says that a person cannot equip their motor vehicle with a meter, unless the Board authorizes it.
  • Section 28(3)(a) of the Act says that the Board can establish terms and conditions of licence regarding “equipment or technology that must be installed or carried on or in motor vehicles operated under the authority of any licence issued in response to the application, and the inspection, testing, adjustments, display and use of that equipment or technology”.


  • A “taxi meter” calculates taxi fares based on distance rates or time rates, or both.
  • A “traditional taxi meter” refers to either an analogue or smart taxi meter, which are hardware-based.
  • A taxi “analogue meter” is a mechanical taxi meter that functions independently from a dispatch system and lacks electronic capabilities.
  • A taxi “smart meter” is a digital-electronic meter that has many programmable options and can connect with dispatch and other technologies via Bluetooth, USB, etc.
  • A taxi “soft meter” is: 
    • Any device used as a taxi meter that calculates distance travelled on the basis of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and/or onboard diagnostics (OBD), or
    • Any smartphone or tablet (or a similar mobile device such as an Android or Apple iOS product) that is loaded with application software to be used as a taxi meter.
  • A “fare” means the total transportation charges and taxes for a trip, including variable-pricing adjustment and excluding any gratuities.

How does the Board regulate taxi meters in BC?

In BC, most taxi rates are calculated on a meter that may be calibrated and tested. Non-metered rates are less common and must be approved by the Board.

Taxi meter rates are based on a flag drop rate, a distance rate, and a time rate.

  • A flag rate is the rate at the start of the trip – it appears when the taxi meter is turned on.
  • A distance rate is a per kilometer rate.
  • A time rate is estimated in seconds or minutes. If a taxi speed falls below a “crossover” speed, then the taxi meter applies the time rate rather than the distance rate.

The Board allows taxi licensees to use traditional taxi meters or taxi soft meters to calculate metered rates. Both kinds of taxi meter must meet the requirements set out in the Board’s Rates Rule – Taxi Meters Rule.

The Board’s regulation of taxi meters focuses on establishing requirements and standards related to technology, function, and use by taxi licensees. The Board does not prescribe specific types or models of taxi meters for use in BC, and it does not maintain a list of approved taxi meters. This approach balances flexibility with transparency for passengers. There are many reasons taxi companies may prefer a certain type of meter over another, including geographical factors, data automation, and compatibility with other technologies.

Weights and measures

In Canada, taxi meters are exempt from approval and testing requirements that are set out in the federal Weights & Measures Act. In the United States, several state and federal agencies are involved in the determination and coordination of national standards for taxi meters.

This table provides links to agencies and standards relevant to the Board’s Rates Rule – Taxi Meters Rule:

InstitutionReference Documents
National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM)
National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP)
NTEP Home Page
Taximeters with an NTEP Certificate of Conformance
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)NIST Handbook 44

Taxi meter types

There are three types of taxi meters currently used by taxis in BC:

  • Analogue taxi meters
  • Smart taxi meters
  • Soft taxi meters

Smart and soft taxi meters have steadily become the industry standard in recent years, while analogue meters have grown less common as they lack the flexibility and advanced capabilities of smart and soft meters.

By replacing analogue taxi meters with smart or soft taxi meters, taxi companies are able to take advantage of technological advances in meter programming, cloud-based dispatch systems, data collection and reporting software, and compatibility with other technologies. Such advances can improve business efficiency, customer service, and transparency for passengers. Modern meters can also help businesses reduce administrative, maintenance, and information technology costs over time.

The following table highlights some of the features, benefits, and limitations of analogue, smart, and soft taxi meters.

Meter TypeFeaturesBenefitsLimitations
  • Mechanical
  • Simple to set rates and calibrate
  • Limited multi-rate programming (requires manual selection)
  • Physical security seal
  • Uses OBD to calculate fares
  • Reliable in all geography/conditions if well-maintained (does not rely on GPS or any network)
  • Cannot connect with dispatch or other technology
  • Driver must manually select the rate and record trip information
  • Cannot automatically record and transmit data 
  • Static rates (must unseal, reprogram, calibrate, and reseal each meter for every rate change)
  • Less transparent to passengers
  • Outdated technology
  • Digital electronic
  • Simple to program and calibrate
  • Multi-rate programming and fees options (manual selection)
  • Physical security seal
  • Uses OBD to calculate fares
  • Technology is evolving to include more wireless programming options
  • Reliable in all geography/conditions
  • Connects with dispatch and other technology
  • Connects to cameras, roof lights, and payment systems easily
  • Records and transmits data automatically
  • Static rates for most (must unseal, reprogram, calibrate, reseal each meter for every rate change)
  • Driver must manually select the rate and fees (where multiple rates are permitted)
  • Software for smartphone or tablet
  • Simple to program and update rates, fees, geofencing, etc. (manual and/or automatic selection)
  • Passenger interface to track trips, receive receipts, etc.
  • Electronically sealed with limited access and mandatory records of changes 
  • Uses OBD, GPS, or a combination of both to calculate fares
  • Connects with dispatch and other technology
  • Flexibility and adaptability are built- in to meet various regulations
  • Fast, remote programming that can save time and resources
  • Potential to program rates by calendar dates, times, etc.
  • Records and transmits data automatically
  • Drivers can transport their phones/tablets easily between vehicles
  • GPS is not reliable (on its own) in all environments
  • May require additional costs to connect to cameras and roof lights

Rates rule - Taxi meters rule

Rates rule - Standard rule for taxi rates