Two-tier taxi system is a race to the bottom

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.”