Tory says Uber 'here to stay,' as city tries to block company from operating
Published Tuesday, November 18, 2014 2:30PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 18, 2014 6:47PM EST
Mayor-elect John Tory has vowed to keep the engine of Uber Canada Inc. running, despite an application for injunction filed by the city to block the car service and related companies from servicing the Toronto area.
Uber is a service that allows customers to find a ride using their mobile phones. Users can get a taxi, private car or rideshare by using a GPS-enabled app.
The company has been operating in Toronto for more than two years, and has never held a taxicab or brokerage licence.
As a result, the company is facing 36 bylaw infractions, Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards Tracey Cook told reporters at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday
"It is the city's opinion that Uber is jeopardizing public safety, including that of the individuals that they are recruiting as drivers," Cook said.
"They are operating in flagrant disregard of the rules of both the city and the province."
According to a statement from the city, the service is dangerous for the following reasons:
- Increased risk to passenger safety because the cars do not need to be inspected and drivers do not need to be trained
- Inadequate insurance that fails to meet municipal requirements
- Increased number of vehicles operating as taxicabs, resulting in traffic congestion
- Unregulated fares resulting in price surging/gouging
- Increased safety risk to drivers due to lack of training normally governed by city bylaws
Despite the bylaw violations, however, Toronto’s next mayor wants Uber to continue operating in the city.
"Uber, and services like it, are here to stay. It is time our regulatory system got in line with evolving consumer demands in the 21st century," he said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "As mayor, I intend to see that it does, while being fair to all parties, respecting the law and public safety."
Earlier on Tuesday, Uber Toronto posted a message on Twitter that there would be no change in operations for the time being.
Thanks for all the support! No change in operations, so Uber on! In the mean time, speak up that Toronto needs Uber: http://t.co/MfoXO5Z1Ui— Uber Toronto (@Uber_TOR) November 18, 2014
In an online petition site, Uber wrote that ridesharing is different from traditional taxi services, and therefore requires different regulations not in place in the City of Toronto.
"Drivers undergo stricter background checks than Toronto taxi drivers and have $5 million of insurance coverage," the website says.
A representative of the company told CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson that the company is disappointed by the city's stance.
"We look forward to sitting down with the city and working to find a common-sense approach to regulations that promote public safety and create a permanent home for Uber in Toronto," Lauren Altmin said in an email on Tuesday.
In the past, Uber representatives have said it should not be considered a cab company, but rather as a technology company.
Toronto is not alone in trying to ban the service from the city. Calgary banned Uber in August, and Vancouver is considering blocking the company.
Uber has also been banned in Brussels, Belgium and Frankfurt, Germany. In the U.S., Uber was banned in the state of Virginia and Los Angeles, Calif.