Safety elements in L&S report mean it must be supported

The Toronto Taxi Alliance firmly believes that the safety of the riding public must be made the highest priority in any new regulations the City develops for the vehicle for hire industry.

The taxi industry does not believe that unlicensed, uninsured drivers in unmarked cars can be considered safe in any way at all. Toronto has spent decades strengthening and improving its taxi safety measures: this report throws all of that away in one fell swoop.

In the irrational drive to accommodate Uber, city staff have actually recommended doing away with snow tires, security cameras, driver training and even the requirement that drivers speak English. This is crazy.

The April 7th staff report cannot be considered acceptable to anyone concerned about consumer safety, much less improved service.

The Toronto Taxi Alliance supports the changes L&S Committee made to the report on April 15th and hopes City Council will respect the work done by Committee; the submissions of 100 deputants; and common sense on safety issues, by supporting this report.

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Top 10 recommendations to L&S on new report: from the Taxi Industry

Top 10 Points to Provide to L&S April 14 from the Taxi Industry

Submitted by:

  • Gail Souter, President, TTA
  • Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager, Beck Taxi
  • Sajid Mughal, President, iTaxi Workers
  • Sam Moini, President, Association of Fleet Taxi Operators of Toronto
  • Paul Sekhon, President, United Taxi Workers Association of GTA
  • Savi Sekhon, City Taxi
  • Peter Mandronis, President, Peter’s Taxi Ltd and Avonhill Limousine
  • Behrouz Khamseh, President, Taxi Action
  • Mohammed Mirza, President, Bangladeshi Taxi Drivers’ Association

 

  1. Proven competence in the English language must remain a requirement to be the driver of any Vehicle for Hire in Toronto.

 

  1. As noted in the MLS 2014 report, several safety measures are important to the City and need to be maintained. All safety measures weakened or removed in the 2016 report should be maintained in any new by-law:
    1. Training: could be less than 17 days, but there must be some.
    2. Snow tires: must be required.
    3. Security cameras and emergency lights: must be required in 100% of vehicles for hire.
    4. Visible signage: all Vehicles for Hire must be clearly plated in a consistent way so that potential passengers and law enforcement can identify them.
    5. Vehicle inspections, twice per year, must be conducted at City inspections centre.
    6. All drivers must have background and Vulnerable Person Checks which will be conducted by Toronto Police Services and submitted directly to the City.
  1. Toronto needs a single-tier system which captures ALL Vehicles for Hire. All Toronto drivers and Vehicles for Hire must be licensed in Ontario. All drivers must submit their HST number with the City. The City should work with Brokerages to identify a sufficient number of accessible cabs.
  1. As per the 2014 report, all drivers of Vehicles for Hire must renew and pay for an annual license and annually show proof of insurance to the City: minimum $2 million COMMERCIAL insurance for vehicles and drivers.
  1. From now on, one person should only be able to own one for-hire vehicle plate, with exceptions for existing conditions. Corporations should not be allowed to purchase plates. City issued plates should be affixed to all Vehicles for Hire. The City should consider a subsidy for drivers of Accessible Vehicles for Hire; and other elements of Accessible service including age and health of drivers to ensure optimal service for passengers.
  1. As noted in the 2014 report, the City of Toronto should play an active role in determining the number of for-hire vehicles on our streets in order to prevent congestion and precarious employment. The 2014 report indicated that according to professional opinion, roughly the current number of licensed Vehicles for Hire is the right number for Toronto. Whatever the number of plates identified as acceptable is, all companies providing service must compete within that pool of plates to purchase or lease the right to do business as a licensed service provider in Toronto. There must be no vehicles providing service which are unlicensed and unregistered. To the greatest degree possible and as quickly as possible, vehicles should be hybrids.
  1. Section 4, which pertains to limousines, should be eliminated in its entirety and the status quo should be maintained.
  1. Pricing: As voted on September 30, 2015, pricing must remain metered and standardized across all elements of the new system, subject to neither discounts nor surges. This is for the safety and protection of drivers and passengers. As a pilot project, Toronto could explore identified locations for individuals who wish to share Vehicles for Hire.
  1. MLS needs to take a more active role in helping the industry address two problematic areas: lack of POS terminal, and short fare refusal. As part of the improved Vehicle for Hire system, greater promotion, enforcement and stiffer fines must be implemented. Point #88 should be deleted from the report.
  1. Creation of a Vehicles for Hire Tribunal: Toronto should create a body of independent, third-party individuals whose responsibility it will be to monitor and provide guidance on growth and change in the industry as well as pre-existing problems. The tribunal would consider and advise on issues both from the consumer side of the industry as well as the regulatory side. Appointed individuals should have transportation business, consumer, and government experience. (66% from the transportation industry; 33% citizen members with experience in the For-Hire industry, and the Chair of L&S to be an ex-officio member of this committee.

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Taxi industry signature sheet PDF

“Ride-hailing insurance” for UberX being purchased by no one

 

March 30, 2016 (Toronto) – Just because an insurance product exists does not mean anybody is buying it, taxi industry leaders told the province of Ontario today.

Gail Souter, president of the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and Marc Andre Way, president of the Canadian Taxi Association (CTA)  sent a joint letter to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), which regulates automobile insurance, calling upon it to require insurers to report on the number of “ride hailing” policies sold to UberX drivers acting as unlicensed taxi drivers.

“We are well aware from industry conversations that a miniscule number of unlicensed drivers will purchase these products, if in fact any ever do. They have managed to drive passengers for compensation for months or years without notifying their insurance companies, and they have no plan to change their behaviour now,” Souter says.

“For example, on March 19th in downtown Toronto, an UberX driver was involved in a serious accident. The driver had to be cut from the car, and he and 3 passengers were transported to hospital. Was this driver covered by any required insurance endorsement? Does anyone know?” she asks.

“Licensed taxi drivers are not only required to pay for commercial insurance, they must present proof of insurance to maintain their license. UberX drivers should be required to do exactly the same thing; otherwise, this entire special ‘ride hailing endorsement’ is simply smoke and mirrors.”

Driving.ca magazine recently noted, “(T)he majority…would rather risk exposure to possible lawsuits and damages than a guaranteed bump in their rates.”

For this reason, the TTA and the CTA wrote FSCO asking it to protect the public through the following actions:

  • That insurance firms selling ride-hailing endorsements be required to report to FSCO the number of such endorsements actually sold, and detail for FSCO how they are monitoring the fact that drivers are only driving the 10 or 20 hours per week for which they are insured.
  • That this information be shared with municipalities. Release of information on the actual number of endorsements purchased will give politicians more accurate information on which to base their debates and decisions.

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TTA, CTA ask: Has ANYONE bought the new ride-hailing insurance?

Featured

Gail Souter, President

Toronto Taxi Alliance

#1 Credit Union Drive

Toronto, ON 

Marc Andre Way, President

Canadian Taxicab Association

455 Coventry Rd.

Ottawa, ON

 

Mr. Tom Golfetto, Director

Automobile Insurance Division

Financial Services Commission of Ontario

5160 Yonge Street
P.O. Box 85
Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6L9

 

March 30, 2016

Dear Mr. Golfetto,

We are writing today in regards to recent developments in new insurance products for sale to unlicensed taxi companies such as UberX and other ride-hailing companies.

We in the legal, regulated taxi industry have grave concerns about the erroneous perception in the media and among elected officials that unlicensed bandit taxi drivers will all now proceed to purchase these endorsements, and that the ride-hailing insurance issue has now been satisfactorily settled.

In fact, we are well aware from industry conversations that a miniscule number of unlicensed drivers will purchase these products, if in fact any ever do. They have managed to drive passengers for compensation for months or years without notifying their insurance companies, and they have no plan to change their behaviour now.

For example, on March 19th in downtown Toronto, an Uber driver was involved in a serious accident. The driver had to be cut from the car, and he and 3 passengers were transported to hospital. Was this driver covered by any required insurance endorsement? Does anyone know?

In fact, Drive Magazine notes, “I’m guessing the majority…would rather risk exposure to possible lawsuits and damages than a guaranteed bump in their rates.”

Further, Uber confuses this situation tremendously in its recruitment materials by telling drivers they only need to provide their personal policy information.

For this reason, the Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) and the Canadian Taxicab Association (CTA) are writing you today to ask the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to protect the public through the following actions:

  • That insurance firms selling ride-hailing endorsements be required to report to FSCO the number of such endorsements actually sold, and detail for FSCO how they are monitoring the fact that drivers are only driving the 10 or 20 hours per week for which they are insured.
  • That this information be shared with municipalities. Release of information on the actual number of endorsements purchased will give politicians more accurate information on which to base their debates and decisions.

We trust you will agree that everyone – consumers, service providers, elected officials and the insurance industry itself – will be well and fairly served with the release of the above information.

Additionally, we request that FSCO investigate the misleading representations Uber has made to the public in the media and to their UberX drivers concerning its insurance shortfall and in particular, its failure to clearly inform drivers that Uber's Non Owned Automobile insurance does not address the paying passenger exclusion and which we believe constitutes an unfair and deceptive business practice.

From Uber’s website FAQ:

“INSURANCE

All drivers are required to carry valid personal auto insurance, which will be your primary coverage. Every ride on the UberX platform is backed by $5,000,000 of contingent coverage for bodily injury and property damage to third parties. This means that if, in the event of an accident, your own personal insurance is exhausted or does not apply for any reason, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ridesharing partners remain covered by a robust first-class policy.”

 

We appreciate your attention to this matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact either of us if you have any questions.

Yours very truly,

 

 

Gail Souter, President                                Marc Andre Way, President

Toronto Taxi Alliance                             Canadian Taxicab Association

 

Regulations are for passenger safety, not driver convenience

Ian Black's March 29 press conference claiming Uber requires "different" regulations contained the most selfish and self-serving comment we have ever heard uttered. 
The point is not really what is easy, or convenient or acceptable to UberX driver or Uber, corporately. 
Taxi regulations have been developed over decades for the purpose of ensuing passenger safety and consumer protection - it has never been about what is convenient for drivers. Regulations evolved to protect the most valuable cargo: vulnerable passengers. 
If these regulations are inconvenient for drivers who only drive 5 or 10 hours per week, they should give up driving for money and leave the work to the professionals who are prepared to endure the inconvenience for the privilege of working as a licensed taxi driver. 
After Kalamazoo, it is beyond incredible that Uber is still pushing the idea that weaker regulations which are more "convenient" for part-time drivers are a good idea. Michigan media report that Jason Walton had 7 tickets for moving violations and Uber's background check did not catch them. Tell us again why Uber deserves its own special set of regulations?