Uber drivers to be pulled from Calgary roads Saturday morning after what company calls ‘sad day’
Uber plans to pull all of its drivers from Calgary roads early Saturday morning to comply with an injunction that was approved by a judge on Friday.
The city made the application so drivers would not be able to operate until council updates its bylaws to regulate ride-hailing services to meet safety, insurance and regulatory requirements.
“This is a sad day for hardworking Calgarians and we are in active discussions with the city so that affordable and reliable rides are available again soon,” Uber Alberta general manager Ramit Kar said in a statement.
The judged ruled that hundreds of Uber drivers are breaking the law if they get behind the wheel to offer rides in a program that is already operating successfully in cities around the world.
The judge said the city’s bylaw has been contravened “deliberately and continuously.”
Colleen Sinclair, a city lawyer, says she hopes the temporary injunction will stop the practice until the next court date of Dec. 17, but if drivers continue to operate there could be court sanctions.
“If the city can establish that they breached the court order … they can be held in contempt of court and there is all manner of sanctions that can occur including fines and jail time,” Sinclair said.
“But only if the city can establish that they have breached this order after they have become aware of it.”
Uber has told drivers their personal insurance provides primary coverage, while each ride is also covered by the company’s contingent coverage up to $5 million for personal injury and property damage.
However, the city says a driver’s personal insurance is nullified when riders in private, unlicensed vehicles are injured.
Don Carruthers, one of the 57 drivers named in the injunction, told CBC News in a previous interview that the city’s approach has been heavy-handed.
The retired engineer who signed on with Uber to drive part-time says the company goes to great lengths to check a driver’s background, including their banking records and the history of their vehicle.
“You go through several steps,” he said. “It actually wasn’t very easy.”
Caruthers says part of the problem is that city councillors aren’t of the smartphone generation and don’t understand that Uber’s customers appreciate the efficiency of the app-based service.
Edmonton also plans to review the Calgary decision but an official said it is too early to determine how it will affect the company’s operations in that city.
The City of Calgary posted the following news release:
Temporary Injunction Granted
The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has issued a temporary injunction against drivers offering rides for a fee using the Uber app.
Justice G. H. Poelman issued the injunction to run until a full hearing December 17. At that time, The City will argue the injunction should be permanent to stop drivers from offering or providing rides for a fee using a vehicle hired through the Uber app until safety, insurance and regulatory requirements are met.
The City filed an application to temporarily stop drivers using the Uber mobile app from offering rides for a fee in breach of the Livery Transport Bylaw. A total of 57 people were named in the application as a driver or registered owner of a private vehicle offering rides for a fee.
Justice Poelman said evidence showed drivers using the Uber app were breaching the bylaw. He said the temporary injunction would extend to the drivers named in The City’s application as well as to all other people operating as an Uber driver in Calgary.
City lawyer Colleen Sinclair is pleased with the ruling.
“This is recognition that private for-hire vehicles operating under the Uber umbrella are breaching The City’s bylaw and they have been ordered to stop,” said Sinclair. “This pulls a number of vehicles that are not appropriately insured, licensed or inspected off the road and prevents them from offering a potentially unsafe service.”
Since launched October 15, The City has charged 19 people driving under the Uber banner with 52 offences under the bylaw and the Traffic Safety Act. Investigation is ongoing related to another 19 drivers facing 48 charges.
The City continues to inform drivers, passengers and the general public about risks involved in private for-hire vehicle services. The Government of Alberta has issued an advisory notice on ride sharing services and the insurance risk they currently pose to themselves and the public, noting any third party involved in an accident in or with one of these vehicles may not have adequate or appropriate insurance. Additional risks relate to the level of vehicle inspections on private for-hire vehicles and the level of training and security checks drivers undergo.
The Court also granted an application for legal Counsel representing 45 of the 50 drivers named in the injunction application to protect the personal information of those drivers.
City Council approved recommendations from Administration November 16 to amend the Livery Transport Bylaw to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) offering private for-hire vehicle services. Council agreed to review bylaw amendments that allow a hybrid Open/Controlled entry system, meaning TNCs could operate if they meet a number of conditions, including having proper vehicle insurance, the driver having a driver’s licence acceptable to the Province (for example, a class 4 licence) and passing a criminal background check.
Proposed bylaw amendments will come back to Council for review no later than Feb. 22, 2016.