Canadian Underwriter

Toronto drops base taxi fare in bid to compete with vehicle for hire providers

November 2, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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Toronto City Council has approved a base fare to enter a taxi in the city of $3.25 – a $1 decrease – effective as of Sunday.

The City of Toronto is also issuing 100 new Toronto Taxicab Licences to drivers on the waiting list

The decrease, approved by city council at its September meeting, means that taxis must charge this reduced rate to passengers starting Nov. 1, although some meters may not reflect the reduction right away, Toronto City Council said in a statement.

“Toronto should have a competitive taxicab industry that serves both the public and drivers well,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in the statement. “That’s why I supported Council’s decision to reduce the minimum fare paid by the public by $1. This will make moving around the city more affordable for the public, and it will help the traditional taxicab industry compete.”

In addition to the reduction in fares for taxicabs, the City is issuing 100 new Toronto Taxicab Licences to drivers on the waiting list. Toronto Taxicab Licences are owner-operated and wheelchair accessible.

At the direction of City Council, Municipal Licensing and Standards Comittee staff are researching and developing regulations for all ground transportation service providers, including taxis, limousines and other vehicles for hire, and will report back to Council in spring of 2016 on the findings, the statement said.

Related: Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges City of Toronto to “unlock the economic potential” of ridesharing

Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) has submitted an administrative inquiry under Municipal Code S27-61 to obtain information regarding the enforcement and prosecution of bylaw infractions related to the continued operation of Uber and UberX, which will be considered by City Council on Tuesday.

On Oct. 2, 2015, City Council approved amendments to Chapter 545, Article VIII, of the Municipal Code to ensure that Uber, and other similar companies, are covered by the bylaw and considered taxi-brokers. These provisions require taxi-brokers to use licensed taxis only.

The City issued a notice to Uber informing the company that it must submit an application and become a licensed taxi-broker in order to bring their operations into compliance with the by-law, said background information from the city. To date, Uber has not secured a taxi-broker licence. “UberX continues to operate using privately-owned, unlicensed vehicles with inadequate insurance and untrained drivers,” Davis wrote. “Uber and UberX continue to flout the law and operate illegally in the City of Toronto.”

Related: Bill to legalize Uber, Airbnb in Ontario passes second reading

Davis is requesting answers to the following questions:

• When was Uber provided notice to comply with the bylaw?

• What response has the City received from Uber?

• What enforcement actions are being undertaken?

• How many charges have been laid against UberX drivers?

• How many charges have been prosecuted to date? Is the City using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms?

• What has been communicated to the general public and the industry about the bylaw and enforcement? and

• What is the City’s legal strategy for addressing continuing non-compliance?

Related: Beck taxi launches petition calling for Toronto to lower fares

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) is requesting that the Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards provide an update to the committee on the implementation and enforcement of a number of Council directions adopted on Sept. 30. The directions relate to amendments to Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Licensing, to:

a) Update the definitions of Taxicab Broker and Limousine Service Company to explicitly provide that technology based brokerages, including Uber, are within the existing regulatory regime;

b) Amend the definition of Taxicab to clarify the distinction between taxicabs and limousines; and

c) Explicitly state that a Taxicab Broker and Limousine Service Company may only contract and/or connect passengers with municipally-licensed taxicabs and limousines, respectively.

“City Council request Uber to stop operating in the City of Toronto until such time as the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards reports on a framework to regulate ground transportation providers,” the request said.

Council will also consider this request on Tuesday.