After a day of lengthy debates and plenty of heated protests, the Toronto City Council voted to regulate Uber yesterday, effectively making the UberX service legal in the city. However, while a positive vote in favor of Uber was recorded, there is a feeling that only now are the battle lines being drawn.
The main difference is, where it was the government chasing the UberX service in the past, it is now taxi drivers and their representative groups. Toronto’s earlier failure to ban UberX outright led to the city council cooling its stance and proposing to regulate the service instead, a move that is expected to have wide repercussions throughout Canada as other cities follow Toronto’s lead.
Mayor John Tory sees the vote as a good thing as it now means that UberX can be properly regulated and subjected to the letter of the law. The City Council agreed with a vote of 32-12 in favor of regulating the service that lets consumers use a GPS application on their smartphone to find nearby drivers, in what many describe as a Quasi taxi service.
Toronto has now opened an economic bounty according to some and now Uber and other peer to peer driving services will be properly regulated, which means they must apply as taxi and limousine brokerages, which carries an annual fee. Until now drivers who are not licensed to carry passengers have been working for the UberX service with no law to stop them.
Those drivers will now become legal taxi operatives and be subject to the same rules as drivers in that industry, or be ejected from the UberX service. Speaking of taxi drivers, they are now the biggest opposition group to Uber in Toronto, with representative groups saying UberX will kill the industry. The city disagrees and says it will put thousands of new taxis into service to give the industry a fighting chance. At least for the time being it seems that there will be a clear industry war between taxi and UberX drivers.
Uber is still causing the city of Toronto problems however. There are no actual regulations in place yet and the council says they may not be ready until early in 2016, which leaves UberX drivers still operating in the limbo they have been until now. The city asked Uber to close down its operations in Toronto in the interim until regulations are in place. Needless to say, the company declined to do so.
Uber Canada’s general manager Ian Black said they have no intention of complying with that request.
“I think Uber has a responsibility to the 400,000 riders who rely on us for transportation as well as the 16,000 drivers who rely on us for their income, so Uber intends to continue operating in the city of Toronto,” Black said.