A public consultation took place this week on Toronto’s Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw Review.
Passenger safety in vehicles has been a concern for the City of Toronto since the arrival of private-transportation company Uber in 2016.
The service became extremely popular to residents in the city, as more people began to use the app. The Vehicle-for-Hire bylaw was introduced in order to regulate the company’s drivers.
To keep drivers and users safe, changes had to be implemented.
Companies like Uber were the reason the bylaw came into effect, according to Carleton Grant.
Grant is the director of policy and strategic support for Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards. He says the high usage rate for Uber in 2016 was the cause for the implementation of regulations.
“People were using them at a significant rate, and we felt it really important that if people are going to be using these and if there’s a demand for this type of service, then they should be regulated,” said Grant.
“We need to ensure the safety of the passengers and the drivers, which is why we brought in the regulations.”
The consultation took place at Metro Hall on March 7 — one of several scheduled for the month — and was aimed at drivers, commuters and customers. Attendance was small, with under 100 citizens attending. The meeting focused on two main areas: public safety and vehicle requirements.
The topics discussed at the meeting, such as passenger pick-up locations, were chosen by council, which sparked discussion in the meeting.
Some participants were not pleased with the structure of the meeting, because they felt that no progress or changes would be made by council despite their input.
One person, who did not want to give their name, left the discussion group early. When asked about the importance of having a public consultation, they said it was “pointless” and that “council wouldn’t do a thing.”
Grant, however, had the opposite opinion about the value of public consultation.
“It’s critical,” he said. “They’re the users of this service, so we need to understand if they’re having a good experience, a negative experience, what we can fix, and how we can make it safe for the people using these services.”
With discussions continuing throughout March, the recommendations arising from the review will potentially influence how services like Uber will operate in the city.