Protests by irate taxi drivers, roadside scuffles involving cabbies and Uber drivers, as well as heated arguments mark a lot of the news coverage concerning the discussion around ride sharing and the traditional taxi business.
However, the introduction of the ride sharing model is also disrupting legacy municipal transportation policies across Canada:
Ottawa released new proposed regulations that would allow Uber to operate in the nation’s capital. Some of the proposed rules are:
- Any driver who would transport people would have to undergo a police record check and provide a copy of their driving record. Uber drivers must resubmit annually, while cab drivers would submit them every three years.
- Drivers must have at least $5 million in liability insurance.
- Private cabs like Uber have to pay a 10 ½ cent charge per ride and an annual licence fee to help cover the cost of inspections and enforcement.
Uber ceased operations in Calgary in February, because the firm “just can’t operate” in the city due to new city bylaws:
- Calgary’s rules limit Uber to transporting customers acquired through its mobile app
- Street hails are exclusive to, taxi stand pickups and phone dispatches are exclusively for taxi drivers
- Uber driver have to pay a $220 per year licensing fee and insists on more stringent background checks.
Uber is legal in Edmonton, but as of early April, Uber drivers are off the road because they are unable to secure the required insurance.
- City regulations require Uber to pay $70,000 per year.
- Council also bumped up everyone’s base fare to $3.25.
- Uber drivers are prohibited from accepting passengers hailed on the street.
- Uber drivers need to get commercial insurance. The insurance will not be available until this summer, so Uber had to suspend operations in the city.
British Columbia’s provincial government appears resigned to the eventual presence of ride sharing in Vancouver saying it’s a matter of when not if.
Vancouver councillors, however, raised some concerns about Uber, including requiring background checks for drivers.
Uber Montreal has launched an email campaign asking its subscribers to write the MNAs and ask Quebec’s minister of transportation to allow Uber to operate in the city and that any proposed regulations “doesn’t turn ride sharing into taxi.”
Minister Jacques Daoust is expected to announce proposed regulations sometime late April or early May this year. Earlier in March, he said Uber was illegal, but has since said the issue was “more complicated.”
Uber has send a mass email to its users in Toronto threatening to leave the city if city council passes restrictions to ride-hailing during their May 3 meeting.
“Toronto, your ride is at risk. Last week, the Licensing and Standards Committee voted to force Uber out of Toronto. If City Council votes the same way on May 3, Toronto will lose ridesharing (uberX) and the benefits that come with it,” Uber warned.
The six-member licensing committee largely defended the traditional taxi industry. It voted to scrap all of the staff-recommended changes to taxi rules that would legalize competition from services like UberX
The proposed rules from staff recommended two sets of regulations – one for taxis and another for “private technology companies” such as Uber.
The committee told council that more than half of the 103 proposed rules do not provide a playing field.
The committee also wants snow tires for taxis and Uber vehicles and mandatory command of English for all drivers of taxi and Uber vehicles.
An Angus Reid survey shows few Canadians support an Uber ban. But most want it regulated like taxis
When asked: Regardless of whether or not Uber is operating in their community, do you think Uber should be allowed to operate in your city (of the city you live closest to)?
33% – Yes, definitely
40% – Maybe, under the right circumstances
17% – No, definitely not
- The majority (63%) say Uber should be regulated in the same way as the taxi industry.
- Among those who have an opinion, the majority (61%) have a positive view of Uber.
- 67% of Canadians agree with the statement “Cab companies should step up their game to compete with Uber”
46% agree that “Cities that don’t allow Uber are stifling competition” (28% disagree; 26% are unsure)
- Most Canadians (57%) agree with the statement “I don’t feel comfortable with Uber raising prices during peak hours” – a practice traditional taxi companies are prohibited from engaging in
- Two-in-five Canadians (39%) worry that “Uber will make working conditions worse for their own drivers and for taxi drivers” (26% disagree with this statement; and 35% are unsure).