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Taxi drivers across the GTA are taking note as Uber announced plans to apply for a taxi brokerage licence from the City of Toronto.
Uber, the service which allows passengers to order and pay for rides with smartphones, is only applying to licence its Uber Taxi platform. Its controversial UberX platform, which lets anyone turn their personal car into a taxi, will remain unregulated, as will its Uber Black limousine service.
Uber wants to be part of the regulated cab system in Toronto, but said rules need to change to accommodate UberX.
There are currently hundreds of Torontonians who are paying their bills and making a living being Uber drivers. 5,000 people are now using the service in the city and called it part of Toronto’s “economic engine.”
Critics of the service, including the city’s licensing and standards department, have warned the service poses safety risk. The city is currently seeking a court injunction to stop Uber from operating in the city.
Taxi companies have been against Uber which they say is responsible for cutting into their profits and endangering their businesses.
Uber meanwhile has a strong ally in Mayor John Tory, who says the program is here to stay. Tory once again criticized the city’s regulations during a Monday speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, saying change is needed to meet “shifting consumer demands.”
A taxi brokerage fee will cost Uber $383.99.
Two taxi drivers who spoke to Can-India last month said that they were in the process of giving up driving their taxis and becoming Uber drivers instead. According to them, there were dozens of taxi drivers who are looking into that option. This seems to be a case of, if you can’t beat them, join them. Some taxi drivers are allegedly already moonlighting as Uber drivers in their down time.