The city of Toronto in Canada has now legally charged over 99 UberX drivers in a stiff battle pitting city officials against the popular taxi hailing company. As the battle rages on, UberX could find operations in Canada’s most populous city troublesome, as it has in other cities around the world.
Up to August 7th, 198 charges have been leveled against 99 UberX drivers. The charges include being an owner of a limousine without a licence and failure to submit vehicles for approval.
These charges carry hefty fines between $500 and $5000, which is sure to give would-be drivers cause for concern.
Toronto officials have long maintained that Uber is a taxi business and deserves to be regulated as any other taxi business, echoing similar sentiments in Hong Kong, Paris and Brazil. In their reports, the officials declared that Uber was operating as a brokerage firm between road users without a licence potentially posing danger to road users and the city.
Uber officials have, in typical fashion, dismissed the call for regulation saying their company is only a technology company that links drivers to taxis.
In June, a Superior Court ruling said that Uber was not operating as a brokerage firm and therefore did not have to follow city rules. The ruling was not welcomed with much joy among the concerned parties.
iTaxiworkers, an industry lobby group, said in a statement through executive director Amarjeet Kaur Chabra, “This will continue to hurt the front line drivers and the taxi industry. We urge City Council to take immediate measures to ensure fairness for the 10,000 licensed taxi drivers of the City.”
Uber Canada general manager, Ian Black, in response, termed the decision “a great win for the 5,000 drivers who need this flexible earning opportunity to make a living, and the 300,000 riders who rely on them.”
The city of Toronto has not been too quick to cede ground to the ride-sharing company. According to city authorities, their bylaws are against individual drivers, not the company, and they can be enforced.
Through the charging of the 99 drivers, the city has stamped its authority on the matter. In addition, city Mayor John Terry called upon the change of the rules to allow the formation of a singular set of regulations to serve the whole taxi hailing industry.
The taxi industry has supported the city’s flagrant deviation from the superior court’s ruling and is now demanding that the police crackdown on errant UberX drivers.
Uber has been experiencing setbacks in its drive to expand, the company valued at over $40 billion dollars is currently banned in Nevada, Eugene (Oregon), Fukuoka (Japan) and Thailand. Partial bans have limited its operations in Southern Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. Toronto becomes the latest city to impose regulations on the application’s drivers, spelling trouble going forward for the company.