Toronto: To Announce New Regulations for Taxi’s & UberX

Update: see previous posts – Jan.31/16 Quebec taxi drivers to file injunction to ban Uber, Jan.29/16 UBER: Edmonton legalizes It, Is Toronto Next?, Dec.26/15 UberX Drivers Face New Insurance Challenges

Toronto Taxi's lined up at hotel taxi stand. Toronto politicians and taxi industry spokespeople hope that a reduced fare will make hiring a taxi an easier option for passengers.
Toronto taxi’s at a taxi stand. photo by fightyourticket.ca
Uber started in San Francisco, California, USA. Uber was founded as "UberCab" by Travis Kalanick (current CEO) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. In October 2015 it was said that Uber's worth was $51 Billion, however Aswath Damodaran, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and a valuation expert, values the ride-hailing company at $23.4 billion, less than half its current sticker. Uber is busy in the courts and fighting off growing competition.
Tomorrow the City of Toronto will announce new regulations, regulating UberX. There will be two sets of regulations, one for taxi’s and another for UberX. Uber drivers will have to have criminal background checks, they would have to have their vehicles inspected annually at provincially certified garages and require insurance to drive their vehicles with passengers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

see source

Regulations to be proposed by Toronto city staff Thursday will include a separate category for services like Uber.

Cabbies and UberX drivers would face different rules for vehicle inspections, police checks and more under long-awaited proposed City of Toronto regulations to be unveiled Thursday.

Taxi’s are abundant in downtown Toronto and all are hustling to make a buck. Since the introduction of UberX, taxi driver’s have seen their ability to earn a living substantially reduced. All taxi drivers want is an equal playing field with UberX drivers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Sources say the intent is to accommodate UberX and any other ride-sharing services that dispatch private vehicle owners via an app, while loosening regulations on the traditional taxi industry. Protections for cab drivers, many of whom do not own their vehicles, means some deregulation would be phased in.

Taxi industry leaders — who have demanded a single set of rules for both cabs and private vehicles dispatched via ride-hailing app such as Uber — on Wednesday rejected the city report before it was released.

Rita Smith, executive director of the Toronto Taxi Alliance, said: “We want the same rules for all and would be gravely disappointed, and a little skeptical, that Uber, which is supposed to be super competitive, can’t compete on a level playing field and needs a special set of rules.”

Uber drivers risk two (2) separate and distinct charges under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act: Operating a commercial motor vehicle without proper insurance, and picking up a passenger for compensation without an appropriate licence. The potential penalties include fines ranging from $300 to $20,000.
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Sources say more than a dozen recommendations include:

  • Requiring UberX vehicles be inspected annually at provincially certified garages, while cabs would still need twice-annual inspections at city-run facilities. The reasoning, one source said, is many cab owners don’t drive their cars, and drivers are concerned that owners would find ways to scrimp on inspections unless forced to use city garages. City staff will, however, propose a pilot project whereby cabs could be inspected at accredited private garages.
  • Both kinds of drivers would be subject to criminal record checks but Uber, not the city, would collect the results for UberX drivers, to be presented upon request by a city inspector. The city says that is akin to the way restaurants are responsible for ensuring servers are certified, and can be audited any time. Different kinds of UberX audits would happen daily.
  • Cab drivers’ licensing and training fees would be reduced in an effort to level the playing field.
  • Taxi companies, which now charge strictly regulated fares, would be allowed to discount prices on app- or phone-dispatched rides to remain competitive with Uber.
  • Only cabs would be allowed to pick up people hailing a ride on the street, said Mayor John Tory, in an interview Wednesday from San Francisco as he was about to leave for Asia on a trade trip.

Tory dismissed the idea there should be one set of regulations for all.

“The notion that the regulations were ever going to be exactly the same — you are dealing with two different businesses,” Tory said.

“Our goal is to provide equitable rules for the two parts of the industry and choice for the customers.”

Toronto police warn that a group of cab drivers has been swiping riders' bank cards as they pay — and then driving straight to ATM machines to empty bank accounts before victims even realize what's happened. Dozens of cab riders have been victimized across the city in recent weeks and the crimes are continuing daily, the lead investigator in the case said Friday.
Taxis parked at a Toronto taxi stand. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Will the new regulations allow for UberX vehicles to share the Toronto HOV lanes with the T.T.C. and Taxis? photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Councillor Jim Karygiannis, city council’s most outspoken Uber critic and taxi defender, said he saw the report Wednesday and is not satisfied. He refused to discuss specifics but said “it’s disheartening, what I’ve seen.”

Whether Uber likes what it sees depends on the details — the company approves of specialized rules in Edmonton, but rejects those approved by Calgary’s council.

Despite her unhappiness with what she’s hearing about the two-tier system, Smith did not foresee drivers rushing to the streets in raucous anti-Uber protests like those seen in December, and which were threatened for February’s NBA all-star weekend.

“These proposed regulations have to go to city council, and we know for a fact there are a ton of city councillors who will have nothing to do with replacing safety standards,” Smith said.

Street signs located at a taxi stand. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

At Queen’s Park on Wednesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she is watching cities including Ottawa, which last week released its proposed regulations, and now Toronto try to accommodate technological change.

“The sharing economy is here to stay. We have to make sure how everyone is safe, how to make sure consumers are protected . . . ” Wynne said.

“At some point, (the Ontario government) will bring forward a provisional framework. But I do think it is important to recognize that the municipalities need to take the lead on this.”

The Ground Transportation Review (report on new regulations regarding taxi’s & UberX vehicles/drivers) will be considered by Toronto’s Licensing and Standards Committee at its April 14/16 meeting. Toronto will announce the report tomorrow at the City Hall at 9:30 a.m. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
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