Taxi associations across Canada are waging a war against Uber Technologies Inc. and more specifically its UberX driver sharing service. It is a war that is slowly being lost and it seems Uber has another ally in the form of Canada’s Competition Bureau, the watchdog saying that governments and taxi authorities around the country need to accept the competition Uber provides.
The Competition Bureau says governmental authorities that control and regulate taxi associations need to be more creative in the face of new competition from Uber and similar companies. Municipalities should look to find ways of regulating UberX and seeks methods of relaxing regulations placed upon taxis and issuing more licenses for drivers.
The view of the Canada Competition Bureau may prove to be controversial, after-all the watchdog is saying local governments should accept Uber, but does not factor in that Uber has been operating in Canada illegally and against the wishes of local authorities.
"When new regulations are needed, they should be limited to meeting legitimate policy objectives, like protecting the safety of passengers and drivers," the bureau said.
Other things the watchdog suggest are:
- Ease price controls, such as regulated taxi fares, to allow fares to be adjusted during periods of varying demand, such as weekends, evenings and bad weather.
- Eliminate restrictions on the number of taxi plates issued and move to a system where additional qualified drivers may operate as vehicles?for?hire.
- Allow all drivers to respond to street hails, regardless of whether they work for a taxi company or ride?sharing service, unless there is a compelling policy reason not to do so.
- Provide incentives to drivers to operate accessible vehicles in areas where consumers are under?served.
The City of Toronto has recently voted to regulate the UberX service, but the company continues to operate illegally in the city as regulations will not be in place until 2016. Across Canada it is a similar story with cities accepting that the rise of Uber is inevitable, and the issue left is how authorities will protect the traditional taxi industry.
Taxi associations and unions representing taxi drivers have waged a war with Uber, with the Ontario Association seeking a temporary injunction against UberX. However, increasingly it seems that Canada, while not embracing Uber, is accepting the company and others like it, so how authorities will aid taxi services will be important. More licenses issued will mean more drivers and taxis on the road, an attempt by provincial governments to make taxis competitive.