Drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft are governed by Toronto’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw
The City of Toronto has recently come out with new requirements that make in-car training for vehicle-for-hire drivers optional. According to the document, recently published on the city’s website, Uber, Lyft and even taxi drivers will not be required to complete anything more than video and online training.
The new document, titled Criteria for Vehicle for Hire Training, is part of the city’s increased safety measures that began to roll out in 2019, after an Uber passenger, Nicholas Cameron, was killed in a crash in 2018. The crash happened when 23-year-old Abdihared Bishar-Mussa pulled over on the Gardiner Expressway to reach for his cellphone, which fell on the floor of his vehicle. While pulling back onto the road, his vehicle was struck, killing Cameron. As part of last year’s amendment to Toronto’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw, such drivers are now required to pass a city-approved training program.
The new criteria is meant for driver training programs that seek accreditation to provide vehicle-for-hire training. The criteria includes training such as driving in an urban setting, sharing the road with the TTC and anti-discrimination. After a driver training program applies for vehicle-for-hire training accreditation, an expert panel will review the submissions against the eligibility criteria and make recommendations for approval, said Fiona Chapman, director of business licensing and regulatory services in the municipal licensing and standards division, in an email.
Chapman said that the city worked with Centennial College to develop the criteria and also reviewed it with an expert panel, which consisted of representatives from city transportation services and other government divisions.
“The mode of delivery (video, online simulation or in-car) was not specifically mandated in the eligibility criteria,” said Chapman. Some say they find this problematic. One of the critics is Cheryl Hawkes, Cameron’s mother, who told the Toronto Star that the lack of mandatory in-car training is “beyond disappointing.” She asked, “Is it too much to ask for one in-car driving test?”
Kristine Hubbard, Beck Taxi’s operations manager, told The Star that she is infuriated with the new criteria, because video and online training is not enough. “One person could sit and collect money for hundreds of other people and just sit and do tests all day,” she said.
However, Mayor John Tory’s spokesperson, Don Peat, said that “city staff will approve programs that have a mix of delivery methods for training, including in-car training,” according to the The Star.