Taxi drivers may stage Uber protest during Pan Am Games
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Thursday, July 2, 2015 10:28AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 2, 2015 4:29PM EDT
Taxi drivers in Toronto may stage some sort of protest against Uber during the Pan American Games unless the city begins cracking down on the service immediately, the head of an industry association says.
Sajid Mughal, president of iTaxi Workers, made the comment to CP24 following a press conference with other industry leaders on Thursday morning.
The comment comes as tensions between the taxi industry and Uber continue to rise.
In recent months, taxi drivers have blocked traffic outside city hall on a number of different occasions to protest the unlicensed and unregulated Uber X service, in which drivers use their personal cars to pick up fares. Cabbies also packed the chambers at city hall in April as council considered new industry regulations.
“I don’t condone it if any action happens during the Pan Am Games but I will say that we have been pushed by the mayor and the police chief to a level at which we may take action today, tomorrow, next week or the week after because the industry is suffering,” Mughal said. “If anything happens it will be the mayor’s fault and it will be the chief of police’s fault for not enforcing the existing bylaws and pushing the cab industry to a point where they could take any action.”
Mughal told CP24 that taxi drivers have seen their incomes reduced by 40 to 50 percent with the arrival of Uber and need the city to take “immediate action” against the service.
Specifically, Mughal said that drivers want the city to enforce section 39.1 of the Highway Traffic Act, which prohibits drivers from “picking up a passenger for the purpose of transporting him or her for compensation, where a licence, permit or authorization is required to do so.”
Police spokesperson Mark Pugash, however, told CP24 that the courts have thrown out 11 tickets that were issued to Uber drivers for violating section 39.1 after taking the position that the law only applies to commercial vehicles.
Speaking with reporters earlier on Wednesday, Toronto Taxi Alliance Spokesperson Sam Moini said that drivers just want a level playing field.
"We provide the same service, we move people from A to B with a vehicle. They are not tele-transporting, they are not doing something crazy technologically that is completely different than what we do," he said.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, Mayor John Tory's office said that he is "sympathetic" to the struggles faced by taxi drivers.
"The Mayor is sympathetic to the struggle drivers are facing -- but we reiterate the best solution is to come to the table and move this industry forward," the statement said. "Strong-arm tactics and veiled threats will not accomplish anything."
Last month, lawyers for the city were in court seeking an injunction that would prevent drivers with Uber’s popular ride-sharing service Uber X from operating.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has yet to rule on the application.
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