Taxi driver Sajjad Ahmad attends the Toronto city council meeting yesterday, to protest Uber,
Photo Credit: Reuters / Mark Blinch

Uber to be regulated: Toronto City Council

Uber will have to obey the rules and regulations in Toronto, following the city council debate and vote yesterday. It took six hours but now city staff will work on developing new rules to accommodate Uber, and services like it. in line with the current taxi and limousine by laws.

Toronto’s Licensing and Standards Committee will revise its rules, with an aim to creating “a level playing field” between traditional cabs and Uber, which has caused growing turmoil in the city’s ground transportation industry since it launched in 2012.

Toronto councillors voted 32-12 in favour of the motion and also passed a motion asking Uber to halt its Toronto operations while the new guidelines are established. It’s not likely that the San Francisco, California.-based company, will comply.

“Uber’s not going away, we can’t just dig our heels in and pretend they don’t exist,” said Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who supported Mayor John Tory’s motion. “Torontonians want them and so in my opinion we need to regulate them,” McMahon told CBC News.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker was a vocal opponent of the motion, and expressed strong support for traditional cab drivers at the meeting. De Baeremaeker told CBC News he would “absolutely” support a return to court, where earlier this year, a judge ruled Uber is not operating as a taxi brokerage and is not bound by the city’s taxi bylaws. The service does not dispatch drivers over phone lines, language that is specifically used in Toronto’s taxi bylaws.

“Uber got off on a technicality,” he said.

Taxi drivers lost a little more ground, however, as the City Council also decided that, beginning in November, the base rate for cab fares will start at $3.25 cents, instead of $4.25

There are an estimated 15,000 Uber drivers in Toronto, with a client base of at least 300,000. Other cities in Canada and across the United States are watching the developments in Toronto. It is likely, Edmonton, Alberta will soon follow Toronto’s lead as the city had been wrangling with the competing interests of Taxi companies and Uber, also.

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