Toronto plans to introduce new regulations that may end conflict between taxi drivers and Uber

News Mar 29, 2016 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

New regulations to govern rideshare services are coming, bringing hope of a possible truce to Toronto’s taxi wars.

Rideshares like UberX, operated by Uber Canada, have led to a revolution in the transportation marketplace: using a smartphone, one can summon a ride within minutes and travel across the city for less than the price of a traditional taxi cab. While proponents of the so-called sharing economy hail rideshares for their innovation, the services have met considerable resistance from taxi drivers, both internationally and locally, not to mention from government.

The taxi drivers claim they are being pushed out of the market by being forced to follow strict regulations governing who can or cannot provide transportation services.

“Drivers’ livelihoods are being taken away from them,” said Kristine Hubbard, operations manager for Beck Taxi, which is one of the city’s largest licensed cab companies.

“For them there’s a real urgency here and it’s hard to listen to conversations on the city council floor as if it’s an abstract concept and not affecting real people with real families.”

Meanwhile, rideshare providers for the most part have been able to continue operating despite the city’s attempt to halt them, either by court actions or bylaw enforcements.

While hundreds of UberX drivers have received tickets since last year for operating illegally, proponents for rideshares say such services shouldn’t be seen as invaders, but as welcome solutions for travelling in an increasingly congested city.

“With crippling congestion, no one can get where they want to go,” said Francis Scherer director of partnerships and communications for BlancRide, a Toronto-based carpooling service which matches prospective drivers to anyone seeking a ride via its mobile application, whether a one-off or part of a daily commute. “We’re providing an ethical and social alternative for getting around the city.”

Like Uber, users of BlancRide can order a ride directly from their smartphones; but unlike their much larger competitor, Scherer insists the service isn’t breaking any laws. While the costs of using a ride arranged through BlancRide are relatively affordable – a listing on the platform asks $30 for a one-way trip from Toronto to Montreal for example – he says drivers aren’t out to make a buck by undercutting traditional competition.

“We’re not trying to void people’s insurance and sell rides and have the driver be a capitalist by every sense of the word,” he said. “We just want him to offset his vehicle costs and maybe have a friendly conversation (on the way to his destination).”

The advance of rideshares has resulted in taxi drivers battling, almost literally, to stop the operation of their new competition.

Taxi drivers have held protests tying up downtown streets, been accused of accosting Uber drivers all to push the message their occupations are in peril. While the drivers have received a level of notoriety and perhaps some sympathy thanks to a steady stream of media headlines spotlighting their grievances, it hasn’t succeeded at all in halting UberX.

Come April, Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department will issue recommendations for regulating rideshares like Uber, but also covering other services which fall under the same banner. While the contents of the regulations aren’t yet known they’re widely expected to mirror those of other cities like Edmonton – such as requirements for commercial insurance and background checks for drivers – which opted to accommodate the operation of rideshares rather than ban them outright.

It remains to be seen how Uber will respond to new rules intended to reduce the competitive edge it has over cab companies. Given the size of the local market of 20,000 Uber drivers in the Toronto area according to estimates, it would make quite an impact if Uber were to suddenly pull up stakes.

But Hubbard dismisses the idea rideshares have created much needed employment by allowing individuals, who never operated such a service, to make additional money.

“First, you follow the rules, and then you try to change them,” she said. “Bandit cabs have been around for a long time, and truly that’s all they are.”

Even with regulation of rideshares, Hubbard points to other jurisdictions such as San Francisco, where Uber drivers recently threatened to disrupt Super Bowl celebrations as a way to protest workers’ benefits similar to traditional ground transportation providers, as evidence the new technology services aren’t going to be able to last.

“There are all these parallels between those Uber drivers and striking taxi drivers here because the reality is it’s not an answer,” she said. “They aren’t ridesharing, very often they’re just going to pick someone else up and keep driving. If it’s really just a person in a car taking you from point A to B it’s a taxi service, and everyone providing that service should follow the same rules.”

Uber Canada did not respond to requests to comment for this article.

Toronto plans to introduce new regulations that may end conflict between taxi drivers and Uber

News Mar 29, 2016 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

New regulations to govern rideshare services are coming, bringing hope of a possible truce to Toronto’s taxi wars.

Rideshares like UberX, operated by Uber Canada, have led to a revolution in the transportation marketplace: using a smartphone, one can summon a ride within minutes and travel across the city for less than the price of a traditional taxi cab. While proponents of the so-called sharing economy hail rideshares for their innovation, the services have met considerable resistance from taxi drivers, both internationally and locally, not to mention from government.

The taxi drivers claim they are being pushed out of the market by being forced to follow strict regulations governing who can or cannot provide transportation services.

“Drivers’ livelihoods are being taken away from them,” said Kristine Hubbard, operations manager for Beck Taxi, which is one of the city’s largest licensed cab companies.

“For them there’s a real urgency here and it’s hard to listen to conversations on the city council floor as if it’s an abstract concept and not affecting real people with real families.”

Meanwhile, rideshare providers for the most part have been able to continue operating despite the city’s attempt to halt them, either by court actions or bylaw enforcements.

While hundreds of UberX drivers have received tickets since last year for operating illegally, proponents for rideshares say such services shouldn’t be seen as invaders, but as welcome solutions for travelling in an increasingly congested city.

“With crippling congestion, no one can get where they want to go,” said Francis Scherer director of partnerships and communications for BlancRide, a Toronto-based carpooling service which matches prospective drivers to anyone seeking a ride via its mobile application, whether a one-off or part of a daily commute. “We’re providing an ethical and social alternative for getting around the city.”

Like Uber, users of BlancRide can order a ride directly from their smartphones; but unlike their much larger competitor, Scherer insists the service isn’t breaking any laws. While the costs of using a ride arranged through BlancRide are relatively affordable – a listing on the platform asks $30 for a one-way trip from Toronto to Montreal for example – he says drivers aren’t out to make a buck by undercutting traditional competition.

“We’re not trying to void people’s insurance and sell rides and have the driver be a capitalist by every sense of the word,” he said. “We just want him to offset his vehicle costs and maybe have a friendly conversation (on the way to his destination).”

The advance of rideshares has resulted in taxi drivers battling, almost literally, to stop the operation of their new competition.

Taxi drivers have held protests tying up downtown streets, been accused of accosting Uber drivers all to push the message their occupations are in peril. While the drivers have received a level of notoriety and perhaps some sympathy thanks to a steady stream of media headlines spotlighting their grievances, it hasn’t succeeded at all in halting UberX.

Come April, Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department will issue recommendations for regulating rideshares like Uber, but also covering other services which fall under the same banner. While the contents of the regulations aren’t yet known they’re widely expected to mirror those of other cities like Edmonton – such as requirements for commercial insurance and background checks for drivers – which opted to accommodate the operation of rideshares rather than ban them outright.

It remains to be seen how Uber will respond to new rules intended to reduce the competitive edge it has over cab companies. Given the size of the local market of 20,000 Uber drivers in the Toronto area according to estimates, it would make quite an impact if Uber were to suddenly pull up stakes.

But Hubbard dismisses the idea rideshares have created much needed employment by allowing individuals, who never operated such a service, to make additional money.

“First, you follow the rules, and then you try to change them,” she said. “Bandit cabs have been around for a long time, and truly that’s all they are.”

Even with regulation of rideshares, Hubbard points to other jurisdictions such as San Francisco, where Uber drivers recently threatened to disrupt Super Bowl celebrations as a way to protest workers’ benefits similar to traditional ground transportation providers, as evidence the new technology services aren’t going to be able to last.

“There are all these parallels between those Uber drivers and striking taxi drivers here because the reality is it’s not an answer,” she said. “They aren’t ridesharing, very often they’re just going to pick someone else up and keep driving. If it’s really just a person in a car taking you from point A to B it’s a taxi service, and everyone providing that service should follow the same rules.”

Uber Canada did not respond to requests to comment for this article.

Toronto plans to introduce new regulations that may end conflict between taxi drivers and Uber

News Mar 29, 2016 by Rahul Gupta City Centre Mirror

New regulations to govern rideshare services are coming, bringing hope of a possible truce to Toronto’s taxi wars.

Rideshares like UberX, operated by Uber Canada, have led to a revolution in the transportation marketplace: using a smartphone, one can summon a ride within minutes and travel across the city for less than the price of a traditional taxi cab. While proponents of the so-called sharing economy hail rideshares for their innovation, the services have met considerable resistance from taxi drivers, both internationally and locally, not to mention from government.

The taxi drivers claim they are being pushed out of the market by being forced to follow strict regulations governing who can or cannot provide transportation services.

“Drivers’ livelihoods are being taken away from them,” said Kristine Hubbard, operations manager for Beck Taxi, which is one of the city’s largest licensed cab companies.

“For them there’s a real urgency here and it’s hard to listen to conversations on the city council floor as if it’s an abstract concept and not affecting real people with real families.”

Meanwhile, rideshare providers for the most part have been able to continue operating despite the city’s attempt to halt them, either by court actions or bylaw enforcements.

While hundreds of UberX drivers have received tickets since last year for operating illegally, proponents for rideshares say such services shouldn’t be seen as invaders, but as welcome solutions for travelling in an increasingly congested city.

“With crippling congestion, no one can get where they want to go,” said Francis Scherer director of partnerships and communications for BlancRide, a Toronto-based carpooling service which matches prospective drivers to anyone seeking a ride via its mobile application, whether a one-off or part of a daily commute. “We’re providing an ethical and social alternative for getting around the city.”

Like Uber, users of BlancRide can order a ride directly from their smartphones; but unlike their much larger competitor, Scherer insists the service isn’t breaking any laws. While the costs of using a ride arranged through BlancRide are relatively affordable – a listing on the platform asks $30 for a one-way trip from Toronto to Montreal for example – he says drivers aren’t out to make a buck by undercutting traditional competition.

“We’re not trying to void people’s insurance and sell rides and have the driver be a capitalist by every sense of the word,” he said. “We just want him to offset his vehicle costs and maybe have a friendly conversation (on the way to his destination).”

The advance of rideshares has resulted in taxi drivers battling, almost literally, to stop the operation of their new competition.

Taxi drivers have held protests tying up downtown streets, been accused of accosting Uber drivers all to push the message their occupations are in peril. While the drivers have received a level of notoriety and perhaps some sympathy thanks to a steady stream of media headlines spotlighting their grievances, it hasn’t succeeded at all in halting UberX.

Come April, Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department will issue recommendations for regulating rideshares like Uber, but also covering other services which fall under the same banner. While the contents of the regulations aren’t yet known they’re widely expected to mirror those of other cities like Edmonton – such as requirements for commercial insurance and background checks for drivers – which opted to accommodate the operation of rideshares rather than ban them outright.

It remains to be seen how Uber will respond to new rules intended to reduce the competitive edge it has over cab companies. Given the size of the local market of 20,000 Uber drivers in the Toronto area according to estimates, it would make quite an impact if Uber were to suddenly pull up stakes.

But Hubbard dismisses the idea rideshares have created much needed employment by allowing individuals, who never operated such a service, to make additional money.

“First, you follow the rules, and then you try to change them,” she said. “Bandit cabs have been around for a long time, and truly that’s all they are.”

Even with regulation of rideshares, Hubbard points to other jurisdictions such as San Francisco, where Uber drivers recently threatened to disrupt Super Bowl celebrations as a way to protest workers’ benefits similar to traditional ground transportation providers, as evidence the new technology services aren’t going to be able to last.

“There are all these parallels between those Uber drivers and striking taxi drivers here because the reality is it’s not an answer,” she said. “They aren’t ridesharing, very often they’re just going to pick someone else up and keep driving. If it’s really just a person in a car taking you from point A to B it’s a taxi service, and everyone providing that service should follow the same rules.”

Uber Canada did not respond to requests to comment for this article.