Category: Race to the bottom

01 Mar

Uber suspends service in Edmonton because government insurance policy not in place

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

Uber has suspended its service in Edmonton because it doesn’t have an approved insurance plan in place as the city’s new ride-sharing regulations kicked in Tuesday.

“The province has cost thousands of Edmonton families a source of income by forcing Uber to suspend operations in the city,” Ramit Kar, Uber’s Alberta general manager, said in a statement.

“Given the city bylaw applies within the city limits of Edmonton, we will continue to enable ridesharing services in surrounding areas.”

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced Monday the new insurance product Uber needs will not be approved in time for the deadline, even though the basic framework of the agreement is finished.

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Source: Edmonton Journal

29 Feb

Lawyer for cabbies argues Uber’s impact on taxi market a ‘disaster’

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

A court on Monday heard for the first time arguments on how Ottawa Uber drivers might fall outside the city’s taxi regulations, weeks before council sees the results of a critical bylaw review.

The local taxi union is asking a judge to ban drivers from using the Uber ride-ordering application to transport passengers. While the union’s lawyer, Sean McGee, described the “disaster” in the taxi market since Uber hit the streets, the lawyer representing several Uber drivers argued Uber vehicles and taxis are two completely different services.

Brian Elkin said Uber drivers don’t operate in the manner city-regulated cabs do: They don’t use taxi stands, they don’t accept curbside hails, and they don’t have to accept a ride request. While the taxi bylaw compels cabbies to have cameras installed inside their vehicles, Elkin pointed out Uber has a different safety system where passengers can see the driver’s picture and details of the vehicle on their smartphones.

McGee, on the other hand, said the city’s bylaw is simple: If you drive a vehicle for hire, you’re a cab and should follow with the rules. The bylaw requires anyone driving passengers for a fee to have a municipal taxi permit.

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Source: Ottawa Citizen

26 Feb

Taking on Uber Quebec – with some help from the province

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

Unless you’re Uber or one its lightly regulated drivers, you would probably think twice about getting into the taxi business these days. The company behind the near-ubiquitous ride-sharing app did not come to be valued at more than $60-billion (U.S.) by going easy on the competition.

Somehow, that has not deterred Montreal serial entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer – best known locally for selling an early tech startup to Quebecor and starring in the Quebec version of Dragon’s Den – from choosing as his next act the intrepid challenge of running Uber out of the province.

He means to do it in the purest way possible – by outcompeting Uber, albeit with an assist from the provincial government. Mr. Taillefer is calling for a tax or fee of $1.10 to be slapped on every Uber ride in Quebec. The proceeds would flow into a fund to compensate the owners of traditional taxi plates, who have seen the value of their permits plummet with Uber’s entry.

“Not compensating these owners would amount to the pure and simple confiscation of their asset by the state,” Mr. Taillefer’s company, Taxelco, charged in a submission last week to the National Assembly’s transportation committee. It is holding special hearings into Uber in response to rising anti-Uber protests, including one that last month shut off traffic into Montreal’s airport.

All signs point to the provincial government, which took over primary responsibility for regulation of the taxi industry from municipalities in 1973, imposing some kind of new levy on Uber fares. Whether it will go as far as the Montreal Board of Trade’s recommendation that the government itself put up the money to buy out the owners of taxi plates remains to be seen.

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Source: The Globe and Mail

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

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

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

23 Feb

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

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

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

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

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


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

20 Feb

Uber: Underpaid, assaulted and disillusioned UK drivers file lawsuit exposing dark side of company

Taxi Truths Driver Satisfaction, News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story, Surge pricing

While Uber might have dodged attempts by Transport for London (TfL) to regulate the app-based taxi firm, British drivers have now revealed that they are so badly treated by the company they are now suing the firm for workers’ rights and compensation for lost earnings.

James Farrar, 47, from Hampshire, was formerly a software developer. In January 2015 he decided to start an NGO advocating better networked rights for workers. To support himself while working on his NGO, he decided to become an Uber driver.

However, just three months after he joined, Farrar was assaulted by a passenger during an Uber job. When the police wanted to investigate his case, Uber took 10 weeks to cooperate with the law and provide the details of the customer who assaulted him.

“I realised I had no rights. Uber has all the control, over the customer details, over how much I can charge, over which passengers I take, but I take all the risks. If I crash, get injured or assaulted, it’s all on me. I realised that if Uber didn’t cooperate, there’s nothing I could do about it,” Farrar, a founding member of the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) union, told IBTimes UK.

“When I went to talk to Uber about why it had taken 10 weeks, they were quite hostile to me. The head of driver operations accused me of trying to record the meeting and then said I was trying to ‘reverse engineer the process’. I don’t even know what that means.”
Weekly Uber earnings below the minimum wage.

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Source: International Business Times

18 Feb

Taxi union asks court to ban drivers from using Uber app in Ottawa

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

The union representing the city’s taxi drivers wants a judge to put the brakes on Uber drivers in Ottawa, prompting the multinational ride-ordering company to accuse cabbies of protectionism.

The union is seeking an injunction against drivers using the Uber application to pick up fee-paying passengers.

Amrik Singh, president of the taxi union, said he believes the public would prefer cabbies using legal channels in their fight against Uber rather than disruptive action witnessed in other cities and in Ottawa during the airport taxi dispute.

“I think public should be happy that we’re not blocking the road,” Singh said Thursday.

The city is reviewing its taxi bylaw to see how Uber could be folded into the regulatory system, but the taxi union says it can’t wait for politicians to take action. Uber drivers continue to cut into cabbies’ livelihoods, Singh said

“We have to look other ways to stop them,” he said.

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Source: Ottawa Citizen