From City Hall: Taxis, Limos & Uber (UPDATED)

At its recent meeting, City Council voted on a series of regulations which legalized private transportation companies (PTCs) such as UBER.  John supported all recommendations relating to establishing a new PTC class in the City’s licensing system.

However, that was only part of the 58 motions Council had before it.  Some of the Mayor’s recommendations – resulting from an agreement reached with several Councillors who supported taxi brokerages and plate owners – effectively reversed most of the positive reforms to the taxi industry adopted by Council in 2014.  More specifically, the recommendations which John did not support, reduced safety and training requirements, reduced initiatives to get more accessible taxis on the road and wiped out provisions which would have moved, over time, all taxi licences into the hands of the drivers (thereby allowing them to earn a better living and providing more incentive for them to provide good customer service).

The motions John voted against also spread the practice of “surge charging” to the taxi industry, so that now both UBER and taxi brokerages have few restrictions on the rates they can charge customers who use their software to order vehicles.

John ultimately voted against the final motion which lumped all of these recommendations together.

John thinks it is a good thing that UBER has been legalized in Toronto and is now subject to a number of regulations, such as a requirement to be properly insured to carry passengers.  Allowing ride sharing companies to operate within our regulatory framework will continue to give residents more transportation choices and hopefully encourage more local residents to do without their own vehicles.  It is unfortunate however that in its decision Council has made things better in some ways, and worse in others.  This is something he hopes to see fixed when the matter comes back to Council for review in one year’s time.

Original Post (October 2015):

This week, Council voted to ask staff to report in 2016 on a way to equitably regulate all providers of ground transportation – including taxis, limousines and Uber vehicles – and to begin consulting on regulations that will ensure a “level playing field” for providers and take into account the City of Toronto’s accessibility objectives. In addition, Council voted to reduce the starting fare of licensed taxis from $4.25 to $3.25 effective November 1.

John has heard significant support for Uber from many local residents (and from a number in opposition).  Generally speaking, he is in support of expanding any transportation service that gives residents incentive to leave their own cars at home.  However, he also recognizes the need for the City to ensure that these services are safe – which generally means some government oversight is required.  He is pleased that the City seems to be working towards a compromise solution and will continue to monitor this issue closely.