This morning Quebec taxi drivers held protests to voice their displeasure with UberX, especially after the provincial government suggested they were open to legalizing the car-sharing service. The UberX service offers customers rides by drivers operating their own private vehicles.
CBC News reports hundreds of drivers and roughly 50 taxis protested at Montreal’s Technoparc, accompanied by police escorts, as they drove towards Quebec Premiere Philippe Couillard’s office downtown.
The protest was organized by the Comité provincial de concertation et de développement de l’industrie du taxi (CPCDIT), the Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos (RTAM) and the Regroupement des intermédiaires de taxi de Québec (RITQ), which clarified the “day of mobilization” will take place “without disrupting traffic or the clientele.” There are 22,000 taxi drivers in Quebec.
In response to today’s protest, late Monday evening, Uber announced it would offer two free rides for new customers today, of $15 value each. Jean-Christophe De Le Rue, senior communications associate, Canada for Uber, said the company would also cap surge pricing (charged when not enough drivers are available) and skip the 20% fee it charges drivers, to encourage more lifts.
Taxi drivers claim their livelihoods are at stake with cheaper services like Uber, as the latter does not have to pay expensive licenses and insurance fees to operate.
Earlier this year, Uber Canada’s Montreal offices were raided by Quebec’s tax agency, on allegations tax laws were broken.