Approving new Uber regulations would mean 'death of taxi industry,' cabbies say
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, September 16, 2015 6:33AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 16, 2015 5:16PM EDT
Representatives from the taxi industry spoke out against Uber at city hall today as the Licensing and Standards Committee met to discuss recommendations to regulate the ride-hailing app.
New regulations for Uber were outlined in a recently released staff report that suggests a separate licensing category, referred to as the Transportation Network Companies, should be created for Uber.
The report was drafted in response to complaints that Uber was putting passenger safety at risk and had an unfair competitive advantage because it is not forced to follow the same regulations as traditional cabs in the city.
As part of the proposed new licensing category, UberX drivers would be required to obtain commercial liability insurance, pay annual permit fees and consent to background checks.
Many cab drivers, however, disagree with a two-tier licensing system, including Sam Moini, a spokeperson for the Toronto Taxi Alliance, who says it will mean the "death of the taxi industry."
"The taxi industry and Uber provide the same service. We provide a service of transportation from point A to point B with a vehicle. Why should there be two sets of rules for the same service. There should be one set of rules for all," Moini said at city hall Wednesday morning alongside other representatives from Toronto's taxi industry.
"We can’t have Uber having an outrageous advantage over the taxi industry and that’s what the Transportation Network Licence does. They allow Uber to have more advantages than the taxi industry. They can charge whatever they like, they can have as many vehicles as they like, meanwhile the taxi industry is grounded by regulation that is there to serve the safety of the public."
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, who sits on the Licensing and Standards Committee, said he plans to vote against the report recommendation for a two-tier system.
“I looked at the report and it is clear to me that the taxi industry that has played by the rules for so long in the City of Toronto has been undercut by a group of people who have decided that they are going to elbow their way into the City of Toronto and do things not according to the standards that we are used to," he told reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.
"If this goes through, it means the taxis are gone in the city and Uber exists and everybody that wants to be in Uber will exist and it will be cowboys riding limos in this city."
Speaking to CP24 Wednesday morning, Mayor John Tory defended the recommendations in the report.
"I have great sympathy for the plight of taxi drivers and others in the business because their business is being changed by technology," Tory said outside city hall.
"Our job is to bring Uber into regulation, bring it under the law, which we are doing and to reduce the regulatory burden on taxis, which we are doing... I know there are people out there who think it would be better if Uber just went away or we tried to ban them but I pose the question to people— how do you think we could ban Uber when 300,000 people use it?"
Outspoken Uber opponent Coun. Jim Karygiannis said the real issue is that a two-tier system does not create the level playing field members of the taxi industry were promised.
"What we have is a mayor that says that we do have a level playing field. The mayor has got to do a reality check,” he said Wednesday.
“My message to John is let the committee do its work. Don’t preempt the committee."