Category: Story

24 Feb

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

Taxi Truths News, Regulation, Story

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

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

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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

16 Feb

Just How Happy is Your Uber Driver, Really?

Taxi Truths Driver Satisfaction, News, Story

In December, Uber said everything was going great, thank you very much. Their drivers were fine, according to an internal survey they distributed, reporting an 81% satisfaction rate. But internal satisfaction reports don’t satisfy everyone — especially The Rideshare Guy, a former engineer who now drives for Uber and Lyft and blogs about the intricacies of the ride-sharing market.

The Rideshare Guy, whose name is Harry Campbell, conducted his own survey, which polled 435 drivers from both Lyft and Uber, and found some slightly different statistics — only 48.4% of his drivers said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the claim that they were satisfied with Uber.

Uber has drawn a lot of flak since its start in 2009, riding the growing wave of the sharing economy in major cities. Traditional cab drivers in London, New York, and other major cities hate the service, saying it undercuts their prices and pays less in taxes.

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Source: Inverse