Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/U.S. border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on March 21, 2020.

Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press

U.S. taxi and limousine services are seeing a boom in business from customers seeking to enter Canada by land to avoid a restriction on international travel that applies only to air traffic.

While both Canadian land and air travellers are required to take a test within three days of departure, and again on arrival, only those flying to Canada must spend up to three days of the country’s 14-day required quarantine period in a hotel.

That has led to a surge of calls for taxi and limousine services from Canadians who fly through U.S. airports in states such as New York and then cross over the land border, representatives of four companies told Reuters.

Story continues below advertisement

“They call from six in the morning to 12 at night,” John Arnet, general manager of 716 Limousine in Buffalo said. “We’ve had so many requests for border crossings that we’re turning them down.”

The company now does more business driving Canadians to their homes in Ontario than with U.S. clients.

A taxi trip across the border can cost around US$200 or US$250 compared with a three-day hotel stay of more than US$961, Canadian travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said.

With the Canada-U.S. land border mostly closed for more than a year because of the pandemic, and overall tourism down, the recent surge in business has come as a relief to some struggling taxi operators.

Nick Boccio, general manager of Buffalo Limousines, said the Canadian clientele has helped the company bring back chauffeurs.

On Friday, Mr. Boccio said the company gave nine different rides to Canadian passengers on just one flight from Florida.

Canada has imposed tough restrictions since the start of the pandemic, including a ban on most foreigners from entering the country. Canadians can fly out of the country and return either by land or air.

Story continues below advertisement

But concerns are mounting owing to a surge in virus variants, with the once temporary hotel quarantine now mandatory for air travellers through late May, and a ban introduced this week on direct flights from India and Pakistan.

WILL THE BOOM LAST?

Mr. Firestone said some of his clients who spent the winter in Florida are returning by land to avoid hotels. Some get rides; others who usually get their cars shipped are driving them north.

“Every single limousine company has got on the bandwagon,” Mr. Firestone said.

Some Canadians ask to be driven home, while others take rides to the border, cross on foot and get another ride in Canada, drivers said.

Non-commercial land border crossings were 60-per-cent higher during one week at the end of March and beginning of April than in the same week in 2020, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency. Air travel for that same week, meanwhile, increased 18.8 per cent. The discrepancy between the rules at the land border and by air is a sore point for Canada’s hard-hit carriers.

Unlike land travellers who can choose where to quarantine, air passengers who test positive at a hotel must self-isolate at a government-mandated facility.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Public Health Agency of Canada data for Feb. 22 through March 25, 1.5 per cent of air passengers to the country tested positive for the virus on arrival compared with 0.3 per cent of land travellers.

The boom for U.S. taxis could soon be muted as premiers from Canada’s two most populous provinces, Quebec and Ontario, have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take further action at the land border.

Tighter requirements might help, such as a mandatory hotel stay for those entering Canada at certain land crossings, said Customs and Immigration Union president Jean-Pierre Fortin, but would be logistically challenging given the vast border.

“It would be very hard to enforce without having clear places for them to go.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies