Two-tier taxi system is a race to the bottom

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September 9, 2015 (Toronto) -- Toronto’s taxi industry is extremely disappointed to see that City staff are recommending Toronto abandon its single tier system of regulation and enforcement of ground transportation, which has protected residents and drivers for 80 years.

“If adopted by Council, these recommendations will spell the end of Toronto’s taxi industry as we know it,” says Sajid Mughal, President of iTaxi Workers.

“Taxicabs are regulated for a reason: they carry our most valuable cargo, Human Beings. We cannot have the wild, wild west in the area of transporting vulnerable passengers.”

Toronto’s taxi industry has followed the rules and regulations determined by Council and staff. Toronto taxicabs are equipped with roof lights, door numbers, City-sanctioned meters and in-car security cameras. Drivers are trained, carry commercial insurance , and have a police background check.

“With the proposed creation of Transportation Network Companies, City staff are setting up an incredibly lop-sided system which would saddle law-abiding taxi drivers with onerous regulations and expenses while UberX drivers are allowed to skim off the easiest and most lucrative business,” says Sam Moini, spokesperson for the Toronto Taxi Alliance.

Allowing UberX cars with no roof lights, meters or in-car cameras to operate outside the system of regulated fares begs conflict situations for riders and drivers, Moini says.

UberX has no accessible vehicles, and cannot be contacted by citizens who do not own smart phones.

“No taxi driver with any common sense, or business sense, will try to keep driving a licensed taxi while competing with these Transportation Network Companies,” Moini says. “Toronto will now get two tiers of transportation service, UberX and taxi. Toronto will quickly be reduced to one level of service, and it will be the lowest level: UberX.

“We can only hope that Toronto’s elected officials see the incredible damage these recommendations will do to the city’s ground transportation system, and stop them cold when the vote comes to Council,” says Mughal. “The City’s own recent review showed that Toronto has the right number of taxi licenses; with no cap and a new tier, the city will be flooded with drivers, none of whom can make a living.”

The City of Toronto does not regulate automobile insurance: Ontario does. Toronto has no authority to sanction UberX drivers to operate without insurance, and in fact opens itself up to potential lawsuits by attempting to do so.

“There was a lot of excitement yesterday over the fact that Intact Insurance has announced its intention to develop an insurance product for UberX,” Moini points out.

“This might be news if there was actually a product UberX drivers could buy – but there is not. Intact did nothing more than announce its ‘intention. which begs the question: if Intact is so excited about developing a new product for the future – what is covering UberX drivers NOW? Nothing. UberX drivers are not covered by any insurance company in Ontario. How can City of Toronto staff recommend the creation of a class of transportation vehicles which cannot obtain insurance anywhere in Ontario? It’s insane.”

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 UberX drivers remain uninsured, despite Intact announcement

September 8, 2015 (Toronto) – Intact Insurance has re-announced its intention to develop insurance products with Uber just in time to confuse residents the day before Toronto releases its report on ridesharing and the underground economy, says Sam Moini, spokesperson for the Toronto Taxi Alliance.

“Intact announced its intention to develop products several months ago. The fact is, no insurance products exist today for UberX drivers. No products to insure UberX drivers have been approved by the regulators at Ontario’s Financial Services Commission (FSCO). No products have been sent to FSCO for review. The approvals process could take months or years.

“It is extremely confusing and unhelpful for Intact to re-announce the same information it announced in June – its intention to develop products - when the fact is that no such product exists right now. Currently, there is no insurance product in Ontario which insures private policy holders who transport fares for compensation as UberX does. It is irresponsible to lead UberX drivers to believe otherwise.”

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Underground Economy event at Ismaili Centre, hosted by City of Toronto

To: Mayor Tory and Members of Toronto City Council,

"The Sharing Economy: What is the role of government?"

Hosted by the City of Toronto

 

October 29, 2015

The Ismaili Centre, Toronto

The last several years have seen the rise in popularity of new business models that focus on technology to allow people to purchase, borrow or share goods and services from each other rather than traditional businesses. Consumers are embracing these types of transactions for their convenience and affordability. It is often referred to as peer-to-peer sharing, collaborative consumption or the sharing economy. Technology is vital to the sharing economy and it is changing quickly.

However, it is also disruptive! Disruptive to established businesses and industries and upending regulatory frameworks currently in place.

What is the sharing economy? What are the issues and the impacts? What does it mean for government?

To better understand the sharing economy and the role of government, the City of Toronto is sponsoring a 1-day forum at the Ismaili Centre on October 29th.

This is an opportunity for governments to learn from experts and discuss the key issues, challenges and opportunities for policy makers.

The City of Toronto is partnering with MaRS to develop a program of speakers, moderator-led panels and small group discussions. Speakers include April Rinne, sharing economy expert and Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum and Sunil Johal, Policy Director at the Mowat Centre. The intended audience is government including Members of Toronto City Council, City of Toronto staff, and staff from other municipalities and the Province.

As this forum is by invitation only and space is limited, please indicate your interest in attending by emailing me at tcook2@toronto.ca.

Further information including an agenda will be made available soon. We look forward to seeing you!

Thank you,

Tracey Cook

blue toronto logo_resized

Tracey Cook

Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards

100 Queen St. West, 16th Floor, West Tower

Toronto, ON   M5H 2N2

Tel: 416-392-8445

Email: tcook2@toronto.ca

New Beck Taxi app serving 200,000 users

September 4, 2015 (Toronto) – Today, Beck Taxi announced that Toronto residents are downloading its App at a rate of over 100 downloads per day.

“Beck now has a base of more than 200,000 users who rely on our technology to get them where they want to be,” says Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager at Beck Taxi.

Beck Taxi was first to market in Toronto in 2012 with a smartphone app allowing users to complete a request in two clicks. In early 2015, Beck launched a new and improved app which allows users to pre-pay with their credit card or PayPal, or pay cash. Users can also now reserve a ride up to 30 days in advance.

“Our phone dispatch remains extremely active,” Hubbard points out, noting that “Many senior citizens or people who do not use smartphones still rely on our phone dispatch, and we are dedicated to ensuring those markets are well-served, too.”

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For more information, contact

media@becktaxi.com