Toronto Draft Regulations to Legalize Uber, Relax Taxi Rules

A highly anticipated City of Toronto staff report has been released today, proposing new rules for taxi rules in the city, in particular dealing with ridesharing companies such as Uber.

According to the The Star, proposed regulations would create a new category of licensing for Private Transportations Companies (PTCs), to allow and regulate private vehicles for transportations services such as UberX.

PTCs will come with a one-time application fee of $20,000, while annual renewal will be calculated at the cost of $10 per driver and 20 cents per trip originating in Toronto

No city-mandated training will be required, just like taxi and limo services, according to the report.

Critics of the proposal, such as Councillor Jim Karygiannis, says “We are allowing Uber to get away with murder,” while licensing committee chair Cesar Palacio said the draft rules favour Uber and are not a level playing field. Councillor Frank Di Giorgio’s initial reaction was to say the proposals are “distinctly unlevel.”

Uber spokeswoman Susie Heath said in a statement “We will be reviewing the report in depth and meeting with city staff to further understand how the proposed regulations may be implemented.”

The report was made by Toronto’s licensing and standards department in respond to the “public’s request for choice in regulated transportation options.” Proposals will offer a chance to “shift from prescriptive regulation” to a new approach that would allow “operational flexibility and provide industry participants with an equal opportunity to provide quality service in a competitive market.”

For PTC drivers, they will need to pass screening criteria approved by the city plus also give proof their personal insurance provider has been notified they intend to offer PTC transport, according to the report. PTC vehicles must have at minimum $2 million in coverage of collusion and passenger hazard insurance, plus $5 million commercial general liability insurance.

The draft report also looks to make changes in favour of the taxi industry, by allowing transfer of coveted standard plates, removing some expensive reforms aimed at improving safe and passenger experience, while also increasing the availability of accessible cabs and addressing the livelihood of drivers.

For example, drivers with non-accessible cabs will not require refresher training or have “command of the English language,” nor have complete CPR or First Aid training if new regulations are passed.

Also, taxis would be able to offer lower rates for trips not flagged down off the street, essentially a move to compete with Uber, if trips are booked with an app or over the phone.

Mayor John Tory said in a statement the new draft proposals aim to modernize regulation of ground transportation in Toronto, saying “Today we have new regulations that create a level playing field, provide safe, convenient options to our residents and allow drivers to earn a competitive living,” adding “Toronto has an opportunity to put the interests of its residents first and create a regulatory environment that protects drivers and allows companies to fairly compete.”

The report, which will be debated at next week’s licensing committee meeting, says “These recommendations, resulting from the expansion of the vehicle-for-hire industry, are intended to enable operational flexibility, improve competitiveness, promote the economic health of the city, and maintain the level of regulation appropriate to promote safety and consumer protection.”

Toronto’s city council will have the final say in the matter, on these draft proposals, at full council debate pegged for next month. You can find the entire 21 page report here.

Uber currently makes roughly 45,000 trips daily in Toronto, according to the city. Last month, Uber hit its fourth anniversary in Toronto, and revealed there are now over 500,000 active riders in the city.

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