Uber refuses to cease operations in Toronto

Published: October 8, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Just two weeks ago the Toronto City Council voted to implement change in the city’s stance on Uber, the drive sharing peer 2 peer service that has courted controversy across the globe. The historic vote concluded with the Toronto council agreeing to find ways to regulate the UberX service, which uses a GPS app for consumers to find nearby drivers, tensions remain.

Despite the favorable vote the company continues to test the patience of authorities in Toronto and according to some Uber is simply not playing fair. Toronto Mayor John Tory is the most powerful figure to outright deride Uber since the vote, saying the company is giving a “one finger salute” to the entire city.

Tory, as mayor of the city, was instrumental in pushing the vote to find regulatory reforms for the UberX service, and he did so despite sizeable opposition. Traditional taxi drivers came out in force to protest the vote that will ultimately lead to finding regulations that will make Uber a true competitor to Toronto’s taxi services.

Last week John Tory did not pull any punches as he said Uber is essentially mocking the city by continuing to operate while regulatory measures are drawn up. After the vote, Tory had originally sought to close Uber in the interim period between the decision and regulations coming into place. That is expected to happen in early 2016, but Uber outright declined to cease operations in Toronto during that period, saying it had a duty to its customers.

That leaves the bizarre situation of UberX drivers operating outside any laws in the city of Toronto while the city scrambles to create viable regulations for the service that will not directly impact traditional taxi drivers. It is a juggling act the city will struggle with.

“The city is working to modernize our transportation networks, and Uber can and must now, in particular, demonstrate that it can earn Toronto’s trust,” the mayor said during a break in city council.

If they “turn around after being part of that (regulation consultation) process and say, ‘No, we’re not going to comply with any of these regulations,’ we are then dealing with people who are dealing in absolute bad faith.”

Tory has also been especially critical of Uber for failing to clear up its muddy insurance policy, where in many cases drivers for the UberX service are not actually covered by the company or their own personal coverage. He also added that the company’s decision to remain in Toronto is unlikely to result in the city seeking to shut Uber down, something it has already tried, and failed, to do.

“While it still won’t be easy to close them down, I can tell right now they will have lost me as a supporter at that time,” Tory said. “I don’t believe it is then an act of good corporate citizenship; in fact I think it’s exactly the opposite, for them to turn around and… give us the one-finger salute again.”

SOURCE: Toronto Star