Lyft Looks to Enter Ottawa’s Ride-Sharing Market, Taxi Drivers ‘Floored’ by City’s Treatment

On Thursday, Bylaw Chief Roger Chapman confirmed that Lyft met with Ottawa’s bylaw department about operating in the nation’s capital.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco-based ride sharing service announced that it would be expanding into Canada, starting with Toronto. Lyft, which works pretty much like Uber, will require a private transportation company (PTC) licence from city hall to operate in the city.

Councillors on the community committee learned that Uber made 6.36 million trips starting from Ottawa in the first 12 months under a new bylaw governing the taxi industry and PTCs. Since the bylaw came into effect on September 30, 2016 the bylaw department hasn’t received security complaints about Uber.

This news has floored Marc André Way, the COO and co-owner of Captial Taxi. Way said that the city isn’t listening to taxi drivers at all.

“It’s so one-sided it’s not funny. We’re trying to be as positive about this as we can, but it’s discouraging to see them not listening to what we’re asking.”

Way said that they have asked the city to allow for “soft meters” in cabs, which would allow more precise time and distance calculations. In addition, the new meters would allow customers to link to the dispatch system using their smartphones.

Obviously this move by the taxi industry is a very late reaction to try and compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. However, if they do get these new meters they will also be able to lower the price of the city-set fare.

“They say they’ve supposedly uncuffed our industry, well, they’ve cuffed us even more now. We’ve got the technology, we’ve invested in the dispatch engine, we’ve invested in the tablet, we’ve invested in improving ourselves, but we’re still stuck with archaic bylaws.

I think Lyft will actually cut into Uber’s business more than our business and that’s what traditionally happens in the other cities, especially in the States. We’ll see what happens in Toronto first.”

Chapman said that they city is in favour of Way’s idea of using soft meters, but any potential decisions on this matter will have to wait until the next term of council in early 2019.

[via Ottawa Citizen]