Toronto Uber war rages on

Published: July 14, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Callum Micucci

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Uber and the City of Toronto continue to trade blows despite a recent court ruling that denied the city’s attempt to halt the service.

This week, a Toronto city councillor has warned both Uber drivers and passengers during a press conference that they’ll be fined if caught using the service.

“Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, a person who arranges for a ride in an unlicensed taxi [can be fined between] $300 and $20,000,” councillor Jim Karygiannis said in a press conference at city hall.

Uber, on the other hand, announced Tuesday that it would be offering a new service, UberPool, during the Pan Am games. The service allows drivers to pick up two different ride requests that are along a similar route, with a maximum of two people per ride (adding up to a maximum Uber capacity of four).

The savings for using UberPool can be up to 50 per cent, says the ridesharing company, and is meant to coincide with the implementation of the HOV lanes during the Pan Am Games.

“We have been looking at Toronto as an option for UberPool for quite some time,” Uber Canada general manager Ian Black told the Toronto Star.

“Timing it to the Pan Am Games, and supporting the city when it’s so clogged up for the Pan Am Games—I think there is a great potential for the city,” he said.

The moves by Uber and the city come just weeks after a Superior Court judge ruled against the city’s attempt to shut down the ridesharing service.

On July 3, Justice Sean Dunphy rejected the city’s request for an injunction against Uber, siding with Uber’s continued insistence that it’s not a taxi company but a technology firm.

“I have concluded that the city has failed to demonstrate a breach by the respondents of its bylaw and the city’s application should therefore be dismissed,” Dunphy ruled.

Dunphy argues against the city’s position that Uber should be subject to the same licensing standards of taxis and limousines.

“The simple fact of the matter is that it does not require ducks to be licensed,” reads part of the decision. “None of the ancillary aspects of Uber’s business — recruiting drivers, marketing, billing, customer relations and the like — is subject to a requirement to obtain a license. Accepting calls for transportation does require a license and Uber does not do that,” he concluded.

Karygiannis, the press conference this week, interpreted the judge’s decision as shifting the legal battle from the ridesharing company to individual drivers and passengers.

“I believe Justice Dunphy’s decision took Uber, the company, off the hook, and put UberX passengers and drivers into the frying pan,” Karygiannis said.

However, Uber has responded by saying they’d pay for drivers’ tickets if they are in fact stopped and charged.

“We don’t believe that the burden of enforcement of outdated regulations should fall on individual drivers,” Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath told Global News.