Category: News

26 Feb

Mississauga council to vote on legalizing Uber

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Story, Surge pricing

 Mississauga could be the first city in the GTA to fully regulate Uber and other ride-hailing companies next week.

A staff report to be debated at a council meeting March 2 recommends an “equal regulation” option that would legalize cheaper but unlicensed services like UberX while allowing the traditional taxi industry to compete.

After Calgary approved new rules that Uber rejected last week, a similar move from Mississauga is likely to be closely watched at Toronto city hall, where staff are in the midst of drafting their own regulations.

“I have always maintained that we have to strike a balance between new technologies and an established industry that has a long history of providing quality service,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement to the Star.

“It is important that we create a level playing field that allows for growth and progress within the industry, while protecting public safety.”

But the newly proposed rules are being criticized by both the industry and Uber.

In a move modeled after Calgary’s regulations, Mississauga city staff have recommended creating a separate category of licence that would require Uber drivers to get the same police background check and training as traditional drivers and provide proof of English literacy as well as obtaining “equivalent” insurance. Drivers would also be required to provide proof of vehicle inspection every six months.

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Source: The Toronto Star

24 Feb

Brampton calls on Uber to suspend ride-sharing service

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Brampton city council jumped into the Uber fray on Wednesday as they called on Uber to suspend some services and requested staff step up enforcement against unlicensed drivers.

But with no plans to challenge Uber in court, Brampton’s politicians may now find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war that has seized Toronto and other major cities across the country.

In their first formal move against Uber, the 11-member council voted unanimously to request the company suspend UberX operations “in a show of good faith” while city staff review the regulations governing taxis and limousines. But that motion is not binding on Uber, which has largely refused to suspend operations in other cities, including Toronto.

Uber Canada gave no assurances they plan to comply with council’s request. When asked directly if they would, Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath said they “look forward to continuing our work with officials in Brampton to modernize regulations to encourage innovation, put people first and create safe, reliable and affordable transportation options.”

While Uber has disrupted taxi markets around the world by letting users connect to licensed cabs through a mobile phone app, it more controversially also offers rides in unlicensed cars at a discount through UberX.

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Source: The Toronto Star

24 Feb

Compensate taxi drivers if permits are abolished, Coderre tells National Assembly hearings

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QUEBEC — Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre warned the transport minister Wednesday against abolishing taxi permits and opening up the market to Uber without first compensating taxi drivers, many of whom have mortgaged their homes to buy a permit.

“The game in all of this, which is major, is that you have people who invested $1.3 billion in permits. Scrapping that, liberalizing too quickly, what kind of social impact will it have?” Coderre asked.

“If you want to take permits away, then pay for it,” he said, adding the taxi industry is bread and butter for 22,000 Montreal families.

The Couillard government is currently holding committee hearings into the future of Quebec’s taxi industry. It is studying ways to regulate ride-hailing companies such as Uber, a new player that operates without taxi permits, and minimal insurance and inspection costs.

Uber has a popular app that connects riders to nearby drivers using their own vehicles. The company says it takes on average four minutes to get an Uber car in Montreal.

On Tuesday, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Germain Belzile from the HEC business school and Vincent Geloso, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, recommended the province open up the market to new technologies and buy back permits from taxi drivers “at a reasonable price.”

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Source: Montreal Gazette

23 Feb

Quebec says Uber should start respecting laws before asking for reforms

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Uber should start respecting the law before it asks for legislative reforms that suit its interests, Transport Minister Jacques Daoust said Thursday during the first day of hearings into the future of the taxi industry.

Daoust said the ride-hailing company has an unacceptable attitude and continued to level stinging criticism at Uber during the legislative committee hearings in Quebec City.

“It’s been a thousand times we’ve seized your company’s vehicles and you say: ‘The law doesn’t apply to me, I won’t listen to it.’ You are not looking for a solution, you are looking for a confrontation and you risk receiving one,” Daoust said.

Sitting across from him during the hearing was the head of Uber in Quebec, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, who also received sharp rebukes from other politicians on the committee.

Daoust told Guillemette that if his company wanted the government to create rules governing ride-sharing services to work alongside the traditional taxi industry, he would have to start respecting the state.

“The legislature, it exists to make laws,” Daoust said. “You’re in the house where we make laws and what you’re saying is: ’Until I like the laws I won’t respect them,’ and for me, sir, that’s unacceptable. We will be the ones to impose a model on you.”

Earlier on Thursday Daoust said Uber should publicly disclose data that would permit the Quebec government to recoup taxes from the ride-hailing company since it began operating in the province.

“When we’re talking about 300,000 (monthly) transactions, that’s a lot of money that should be taxed,” Daoust said.

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Source: The Globe and Mail

23 Feb

Regional vehicle-for-hire bylaw could regulate Uber, taxis and limos

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Waterloo Region needs a bylaw to regulate ride-hailing services like Uber and can’t afford to wait any longer for the provincial government to take action, says regional councillor Jane Mitchell.

Mitchell, chair of the region’s licensing and hearings committee, says that with no sign of any regulating measures from the Ontario government, it’s time the region put in place its own “vehicle-for-hire” bylaw, bringing taxis, limousines and services like Uber and Lyft under a single legal umbrella.

“Uber is presently illegal and [it] has been here since July. As far as the people who are doing the legal thing, which is the taxis and the limousines, particularly the taxis– they’re getting very concerned that Uber gets [a] free ride and is going into their livelihood,” Mitchell told CBC Radio’s The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Tuesday.

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Source: CBC

23 Feb

Quebec considers suspending Uber drivers’ licences

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QUEBEC — Taxi drivers in Quebec will inevitably lose money when the province moves to modernize its law on transportation services by taxi, the president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal told National Assembly hearings Tuesday evening.

“If I were a taxi driver with a permit bought at its highest value ($200,000), I would be nervous right now,” Michel Leblanc said, adding the inflated price of taxi permits reminds him of the Internet bubble at the end of the 1990s.

“A very high number of Canadians invested in Nortel in those days and they lost part of their money, and the thing I wanted to highlight with that is that whenever you make an investment in life, you run the risk of making lots of money or losing some or all of the investments.”

Leblanc said popular ride-sharing companies that connect riders and drivers via apps, such as Uber, “have arrived” and Quebec needs to wake up. The province should buy back permits “at a reasonable price,” around $20,000, and/or impose a special tax on Uber users, as was done in Edmonton ($0.06/ride) to compensate traditional taxi drivers.

At least two other groups told the committee Quebec should move full-steam ahead with liberalizing the market.
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Source: Montreal Gazette


23 Feb

Uber says it won’t return to Calgary after council passes new bylaw

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Uber says it won’t return to Calgary after council approved a new bylaw allowing so-called ride-share companies to legally operate in the city later this year.

In a 14-1 vote, city council passed what Mayor Naheed Nenshi described as a “21st century” model other cities could emulate as ride-sharing becomes an increasingly popular alternative to traditional cabs.

“This isn’t about Uber,” Nenshi told reporters after council’s decision. “Let’s think about the fact that we’ve completely modernized the taxi bylaw without a single protest, which hasn’t happened in any other city.”

The new livery transport bylaw would see private-for-hire drivers pay a $220 annual licensing fee, plus a $30 Calgary Police Services criminal history and an annual vehicle inspection fee.

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Source: Calgary Herald

22 Feb

Uber Agrees to Settle Class-Action Suit Over Safety Claims

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Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that took issue with the company’s claims that its driver background checks were “industry leading.”

The terms of the settlement, filed on Thursday in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, require Uber to pay roughly 25 million riders across the United States and to reword the language around the fee that the company charges for each ride.

Uber will rename the fee, called the “safe ride fee,” to a “booking fee.” The ride-hailing company said it would use the fee to “cover safety as well as additional operational costs that could arise in the future.” Lyft, a main Uber rival, has made a similar change, Uber said.

“No means of transportation can ever be 100 percent safe. Accidents and incidents do happen,” Uber said in a statement. “That’s why it’s important to ensure that the language we use to describe safety at Uber is clear and precise.”

The settlement brings to a close a suit that was filed by Matthew Philliben and Byron McKnight in 2014 over whether Uber misrepresented the level of scrutiny it uses when recruiting drivers, who must pass background checks conducted through a third-party service.

Earlier in 2014, a New York Times article found that Uber and Lyft were actively lobbying against fingerprint-based background checks in courthouses across the country. At the time, lawmakers said that in the rush to add drivers to their services, Uber and Lyft chose speed over quality in background checks.

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Source: New York Times


22 Feb

EXCLUSIVE: TV ad attacks Uber over lack of vehicles for disabled riders

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A disability rights group will launch an ad campaign Monday against Uber for rebuffing a wheelchair-accessible fleet.

A narrator in the United Suber-protest lack of accessible vehiculespinal Association’s 30-second spot, which will run on NY1 and cable TV channels, says, “Uber should make its 30,000 cars in New York wheelchair-accessible.”

“We need Uber to step up, we need Uber to be a socially aware, socially responsible company,” United Spinal Association President Jim Weisman told the Daily News.

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Source: New York Daily News

21 Feb

What the Michigan shooting spree reveals about Uber’s background checks

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Uncategorized

Authorities said they are investigating whether Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton may have given a harrowing ride to a passenger shortly before embarking on a shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Mich., that killed six — and that they are looking into whether Dalton may have continued picking up fares in the middle of his rampage.

Ultimately, investigators may decide that there was no reliable way to predict that Dalton would, during a single shift on the job, morph from his identity as a driver into his role as a mass killer. Police say Dalton didn’t have a criminal history.

An Uber spokesman confirmed Dalton had been working with the company and said he had passed a background check required for drivers employed by the company. The person declined to say how long Dalton had been driving for Uber.

The incident came just weeks after Uber settled two class-action lawsuits for $28.5 million after the company was accused of exaggerating the safety of its background checks. Despite using phrases such as “safest ride on the road” and “industry-leading background checks,” the suits claimed, the company did not check drivers against the national sex-offender registry or employ fingerprint identification.

“We learned of systemic failures in Uber’s background checks,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in reference to the lawsuits, according to Forbes. “We have learned they have drivers who are convicted sex offenders, thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a convicted murder.”

“This is only really scratching the surface,” he added.

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Source: Washington Post