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Taxi drivers head to city hall as councillors discuss new regulations


Toronto taxi drivers are expected to descend on city hall, where the licensing and standards committee is set to discuss 100 new recommendations that will change how taxis and Uber will operate in the city.

The Thursday morning meeting will be the first time some councillors get to ask staff about the draft regulations. The recommendations, revealed last week, loosen regulations for the taxi industry but also allow Uber — and its UberX program, which allows anyone to operate their personal vehicle like a cab — to keep operating, albeit with some new requirements.

City staff have been working on the rules throughout the winter, which was marked by taxi protests demanding Toronto ban Uber.

Mayor John Tory voiced his support for the regulations when they were released, saying they create a level playing field. But he won’t be among the six councillors who will question staff about the new rules at the licensing and standards committee meeting. 

Two councillors who don’t sit on the committee said they expect the regulations to change before the entire city council gets to vote on them on May 3-4.

“I can assure you it will not come out the other end in the form it’s in,” Coun. Janet Davis told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning last week.

Davis said she’s concerned the new rules will hurt taxi drivers, jeopardize the public safety and reduce accountability in the ground transportation business.

Others, like Coun. John Campbell, said the loosening of rules for taxi operators, like more flexible pricing, could create a “healthier taxi cab industry.”

Campbell said taxis are still an attractive option for many Torontonians.

There is that standard that taxis still represent,” he said.

He agreed with Davis that the regulations won’t make it to council in their current form. 

Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the report, which you can read in full here:

Fares:

  • Taxi brokers can offer discounts to people who call or use their mobile or internet applications to hail cabs.
  • Fares will not change for people who hail cabs on the street or who use taxi stands.
  • There was no mention of curtailing Uber’s surge pricing.

Mechanical inspections:

  • Any 4-door vehicle less than seven years old can be used as a taxi, a limousine or an Uber car.
  • Taxis: still required to get semi-annual inspections at city-run garages.
  • Uber: required to get annual inspections at any garage in the city that meets the city’s requirements.
  • The city is recommending that it undertake a separate review that would look into the feasibility of allowing taxis to get their vehicles inspected at any garage in the city that meets the city’s requirements.
  • Taxis will not be required to install snow tires every winter.

Licences:

  • Replace the existing taxi and limousine driver licence classes and create a “vehicle-for-hire” licence for Uber and limousine drivers.
  • Changes to ambassador taxis, Toronto taxis and wheelchair-accessible taxis, which includes changes that would come into play when selling and owning the vehicles.
  • Taxi drivers must pay a yearly $ 290 fee for their licence.
  • Uber drivers must pay a yearly $ 10 fee for their licence, but 20 cents per trip will be paid to the city.

Background checks:

  • Require criminal background checks for all drivers.
  • Checks on Uber drivers must be done by Uber, and the city said it would audit the company to make sure it is completing the checks successfully.

Insurance:

  • Cabs are currently required to carry $ 2 million in collision and passenger hazard insurance — Uber drivers will be required to do the same.
  • Uber drivers will also be required to carry $ 5 million of commercial general liability insurance.

Accessibility:

  • Increase accessible taxi fleet by 25 per cent by 2021 by issuing licences to drivers on the wait list (this could be up to 200 more vehicles).
  • Waive licence application and licence renewal fees for accessible cabs, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2016.
  • Waive training fees for drivers of accessible cabs.
  • Incentivize Uber drivers by requiring non-accessible cabs to pay a fee and ensure that accessible vehicles have comparable wait times to accessible vehicles from taxi services.
  • All vehicle-for-hire (Uber) drivers complete a training program.

CBC | Toronto News

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