HALIFAX -- Taxi drivers in the Halifax area can now pick up and drop off passengers anywhere in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Taxi zones previously restricted where drivers could pick up and drop off passengers. Those zones were eliminated on Saturday, when a new taxi bylaw and administrative order came into effect.

Under the new bylaw, the number of owner licences has increased from 1,000 to 1,600. HRM says drivers on the waitlist will be offered a taxi owner’s licence when their name has been reached.

That's good news for drivers on the waitlist like Crissy McDow, who owns an all-female shuttle service.

"I didn't get the phone call saying that I got my licence," said McDow. "I am on the list, but how far down am I on the list?"

The process is expected to take a number of years.

"People were waiting years and years to get a licence," said Halifax Regional Municipality spokesman Brendan Elliott.

As it turns out, they might still be waiting years because the city says the new licences will be doled out gradually to make sure the process is handled properly and everyone follows the rules.

"What we're going to do is, every couple of months, we'll release 20, 30 licences, depending on the pickup," Elliott said. "So it's not going to be a massive overflow of taxi drivers on the streets."

Said McDow: "The impact will be slow, and I'm encouraging more women to get into this industry."

Drivers will also be required to complete mandatory training, including cultural sensitivity training, once it becomes available. In addition, drivers will have to complete a winter driving course.

All taxis must have debit and credit machines, as well as GPS. Taxi drivers have six months to install the devices in their vehicles.