Toronto city council votes to regulate Uber

After a long day of debate Wednesday, Toronto city council voted to regulate ride-hailing service Uber.

Just after 8 p.m. Wednesday, councillors voted 32-12 in favour of Mayor John Tory’s motion asking staff to come back with new regulations.

A motion asking that Uber cease operations until the report is presented also passed.

Councillors also voted to lower the “drop fee” — the starting price for a taxi trip in the city — from $4.25 to $3.25, effective Nov. 1.

Mayor John Tory tweeted shortly after the vote: “Today we move forward to regulate Uber & technologies like it. It’s what people want & it will provide fairness our drivers deserve.”

The meeting was a continuation of a Sept. 16 discussion on a licensing and standards staff report. The recommendations from that report included creating a two-tier licensing system that would place UberX and similar ride-hailing services in a category separate from traditional taxis.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, along with more than 100 taxi drivers and supporters, were at that meeting to stand their ground against UberX.

Mammoliti has been outspoken about wanting UberX out of the city. Last Wednesday, he invited taxi drivers to rally together against Uber.

A Beck Taxi cab waits on Queen St. in Toronto. (Tom Purves / Creative Commons)

A Beck Taxi cab waits on Queen St. in Toronto. (Tom Purves / Creative Commons)

Mammoliti and other critics have said that the ride-hailing service will ultimately bring the end of the taxi industry by allowing drivers to reduce costs by using their own vehicles and not purchasing commercial insurance.

The councillor also created a petition to ban Uber altogether. As of Wednesday, he had gathered 7,000 signatures.

A recently released report lead by Murtaza Haider, associate professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management, says companies such as Uber increase the number of for-hire vehicles in Toronto and congest road networks. This will likely worsen traffic congestion for all commuters, it says. The report, however, was commissioned by Beck Taxi, a company that is directly implicated by any regulation.

But not everyone is opposed to UberX. UberX connects its clients with individuals who are driving their own cars, on their own time, where the original Uber connects their clients with professional drivers.

More than 20,000 people have signed UberX’s online petition urging city council to formally legalize the service in Toronto.

UberX’s petition says opponents “are attempting to end ride-sharing in Toronto by pushing city council to reject the creation of a regulatory framework that gives residents more options, creates jobs and supports innovation.”

Taxi industry supporters and drivers say that UberX is breaking taxi industry regulations.

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