Karygiannis tells Pan Am visitors to 'beware' of uberX
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2015 6:25AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 14, 2015 3:54PM EDT
One Toronto city councillor says Pan Am Games visitors should steer clear of using services like uberX during their stay in Toronto unless they want to risk a massive fine.
Coun. Jim Karygiannis claims that uberX passengers could face a penalty between $300 to $20,000 for using the ride-hailing service.
“I want to warn Pan Am Games visitors that they risk being charged and fined up to $20,000 if they use any unlicensed bandit taxis like Uber in Ontario,” Karygiannis said in a written statement released Tuesday.
“Two weeks ago a judge ruled that passengers, not Uber, arranges rides with uberX drivers. It is this court ruling which now puts passengers at risk. UberX drivers are unlicensed taxis.”
The Ward 39 councillor added that his fellow council members recently voted to ask Toronto police to crack down on enforcing the Highway Traffic Act and all city bylaws.
"The purpose of my statement today is to give fair warning to Toronto residents and visitors that too could be charged once Toronto police reinstate their enforcement of illegal taxis under the Highway Traffic Act," Karygiannis said
But Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash says the matter needs to be dealt with at city hall and has to be enforced by bylaw officers.
"Police won't get involved in political issues," Pugash told CP24 Tuesday morning.
Speaking with reporters at a news conference, Mayor John Tory said he's not in favour of cracking down on UberX passengers who may be unaware of or confused about current regulations. However he reiterated that UberX drivers are currently operating "outside the law."
Although no uberX passengers have been fined to date, Tracey Cook, the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, said that enforcement of city bylaws is ongoing and 72 new charges have been laid against UberX drivers.
The charges include limousine owner operating with no licence and limousine owner failing to submit vehicle for approval by Minicipal Licensing and Standards. The charges, Cook said, carry a fine of $500 and $300 respectively plus a victim fine surcharge.
Uber launches uberPOOL:
Karygiannis’ statement comes just one day after Uber launched uberPOOL in Toronto, a carpooling option it says will help reduce gridlock and emissions during the Pan Am Games.
According to the company's website, uberPOOL allows passengers to share their ride and the cost with other passengers headed in the same direction.
In an interview with CP24 Tuesday, Ian Black, the general manager of Uber Toronto, said that Karygiannis statements about uberX passengers being fined were "inaccurate."
"It is certainly not illegal to ride in uberX or in any uber product so I think there is a bit of misinformation there," Black said.
"We are very focused on helping the city move during the Pan Am Games and we are hoping that we support the efforts of the province and the city in doing that."