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Toronto Legalizes UberX as New Rules Approved

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The Toronto city council has approved new rules that legalize ride-sharing services, like Uber. The rules also allow taxis to start using Uber-style “surge” peak-time pricing on fares booked through a smartphone application (via the Star).

Uber Canada chief Ian Black was pleased with the decision issued yesterday, and singled out Mayor John Tory’s leadership for “for shepherding this issue through council to a big step forward.” Mayor Tory convinced the city council to vote 27-15 in favour of the new rules.

“The status quo is not satisfactory,” Tory told council Monday afternoon as he stood to move the package of reworked recommendations, causing a stir among left-leaning councillors who thought they had his support for a less Uber-friendly package.

“We cannot end up going out of this chamber without having put some regime in place and there is no ideal answer that is going to satisfy everybody.”

However as the vote shows, not everyone agrees with the new rules: from the perspective of councillor Gord Perks’, the major losers will be taxi drivers and passengers with fewer safety protections like cameras, and benefits to the ‘billionaires and millionaires” who invested in Uber and Toronto taxis.

The new measures approved by the council:

– Allow private transportation companies (PTCs) like Uber to operate in Toronto, booked only through a smartphone app, with a $3.25 minimum fare, no maximum fares and “surge” peak-time pricing.
– Allow taxis to adopt “surge” peak-time pricing for rides booked via smartphone app, and to discount pricing as long as drivers aren’t forced to pay the cost of the discount.
– Maintain requirements for taxis to have cameras, and flashing emergency lights, but not for PTCs. Have city staff report back next year on whether PTCs need cameras.
– Ensure PTCs and taxis have insurance of at least $2 million on all drivers for bodily injury, death and damages to people or property.

The above measures are aimed to create a competitive marketplace, and encourage other ridesharing companies like Lyft to enter Toronto. Apparently the conditions deemed acceptable by Uber are not so for Lyft, as the company sees the requirements as “burdensome” and would “impede the ability of ride-sharing, and the benefits associated with it, to be successful in Toronto,” as Lyft executive Michael Masserman wrote in an email to councillors on Monday.

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