Competition Bureau: Taxi Services Like Uber are “Innovative Business Models”

The Competition Bureau has provided its stance on the emerging digital taxi services industry, such as companies like Uber, seen as changing the closed taxi model and opening it up for greater competition.

The Bureau today has released a statement as part of its period publication The Competition Advocate to say it deems these new taxi services as “innovative business models” seen to offer consumers benefits such as lower prices and convenience:

The Competition Bureau is of the view that these innovative business models have the potential to offer important benefits to consumers through more competition, including lower prices, greater convenience and better service quality for a variety of reasons.

First, digital dispatch services offer an innovative and convenient alternative to traditional methods of arranging urban transportation, such as hailing a taxicab on the street or phoning a traditional dispatcher. This is very convenient for consumers.

The Bureau also noted the concerns municipalities have raised over these new taxi services, mentioning how Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver recently banned ridesharing services and also how Ottawa and Toronto have used enforcement to prevent these digital dispatch services. Here’s what they recommend:

The Bureau believes municipalities should consider whether prohibitions on digital dispatch services and ridesharing applications are necessary and explore whether less restrictive regulations could adequately address their concerns.

The agency also stated it has received numerous complaints against the current taxi industry over the years, specifically mentioning long wait times and expensive pricing.

While the Bureau says they are aware of safety and privacy concerns raised, it says those responsible for oversight of new digital dispatch services “properly consider the impact their rules and policies have on competition and ultimately, on the prices, choices, and service quality available to consumers.”

What do you think? Should taxi services like Uber face regulations like traditional taxi companies?