Council votes to examine Uber regulations

Toronto city council have voted to look into possible regulations for Uber.

After a day of heated debate, councillors voted 32-12 in favour of Mayor John Tory’s motion asking city staff to come up with a “regulatory framework” of possible rules for the ride sharing service.

“Toronto will have a fair and modern taxi industry,” Tory said.

In a close vote, councillors also voted 24–20 requesting Uber to suspend its UberX operation in Toronto until the spring of 2016, when the next report is to be presented.

Uber Canada executive Ian Black spoke to reporters following the vote, saying Uber will continue to operate as normally despite council’s request.

The taxi industry has been critical of Uber, claiming they have an unfair competitive advantage because their drivers don’t have to purchase taxi licenses or complete the required taxi training program.

The report recommended that Uber should comply with the same regulations as taxis and update the definition of a taxicab broker to include the technology based ride hailing service.

Uber has been able to get around the city’s laws by claiming they are a communication service, not a taxi cab company.

Councillors also voted in favour of reducing the base rate for Toronto cab drivers from $4.25 to $3.25 to be more competitive with Uber. The new rate will take effect on Nov. 1.

These decisions come after Uber announced its plans to expand by recruiting 4,000 new drivers in the Scarborough area by the Fall of 2016. Since September 2014, nearly 2,000 Scarborough residents have registered as UberX drivers according to Uber Canada.

Uber also says that in the last six months, they have seen a five-fold increase in business in Scarborough-showing a faster growth than the downtown core.

Uber’s senior marketing manager, Lindsay Liptok said in a statement, she is pleased to see business growing in Toronto’s east-end.

“Residents are eager for flexible and equitable earning opportunities where they can be their own boss and work when they’d like,” Liptok said. “The best part is that these drivers will deliver reliable transportation options to communities that are under served by traditional transportation options.”

There has been no statement from Uber regarding the decisions made by council, and whether they will effect the company’s plans for Scarborough.

Councillors also voted to review the city’s current taxi bylaws.