Uber Licensed to Operate in Toronto, Cabbies Protest with ‘Taxi Lives Matter’

The City of Toronto has issued Uber a license to operate in Toronto, making the latter the first to receive a Private Transportation Company (PTC) designation. Council voted in May to legalize Uber after passing new Vehicle-for-Hire bylaws, which came into effect on July 15th.

Tracey Cook, Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards for the City of Toronto, said at a press conference yesterday “It’s the first licence issued to Uber in Canada.”

Uber spokesperson Susie Heath told CBC News the licence “comes as a result of cooperating with the City of Toronto as they work to implement the new city bylaw.”

The process means Uber will forward driver information to city officials, who will then screen drivers and issue licenses, with 12,000 expected to be completed by September. PTC bylaws state cars on the road cannot be older than seven years, a decision which has reduced Uber’s driver base by about 30 per cent.

Taxi drivers in Toronto aren’t happy about the move and staged a protest this morning at East York Civic Centre, with one sign saying “Taxi Lives Matter”.

Toronto taxi protest

Image via CBC News

Paul Sekhon, president of the United Taxi Workers Association, said yesterday “It’s a political stunt, hoping that out of shame we won’t do the protest anymore,” adding existing UberX drivers should be off the road until their city licenses are granted.

At this morning’s protest, he said “They should have respect for us,” saying “We’re here to do a full time job and provide food and put it on the table for our families.” Sekhon took shots at casual Uber drivers, driving as secondary jobs, saying they were “jokers”.

Many taxi drivers in attendance called for Cook to resign, over the way Uber has been handled in the city. This morning’s protest was peaceful and no roads were blocked.

Uber allows smartphone users to order and pay for a taxi through an app, which shows where your driver is in real-time. UberX allows drivers to shuttle passengers in their private vehicles, versus a traditional taxi cab.