Online ads seeking Brampton-based drivers for Uber, the app-based taxi service has caught the attention of dozens of city residents from all walks of life including some taxi drivers who are actively considering turning in their taxis and becoming Uber drivers instead.
Shahid Ahmed who has owned a taxi for the past 7 years says that earning a good living is getting harder for taxi drivers. “Before Uber came to Toronto, a taxi driver would have to work say 6 hours and make a decent wage, today to make the same wage he has to work ten hours,” he said.
Two taxi drivers who spoke to Can-India on condition of anonymity said they are looking into becoming Uber drivers instead. “We pay $10,000 insurance a year, Uber drivers pay just $1,000. After paying the dispatch company etc, our profits are reduced. Besides on every fare, an Uber driver has to give 20 percent to the company,” said one Mississauga-based taxi driver.
Uber has been around only five years in business and already operates in more than 200 cities—including Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa—has spread over six continents.
In late November, the city of Toronto filed for a court injunction against Uber, claiming the firm has been illegally operating as a taxi and limo brokerage since 2012. The company maintains it is simply a technology provider and, therefore, not required to obtain a permit or conform to licensing standards.
Toronto mayor John Tory, however, issued a statement saying 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,”
According to Shahid Ahmed, many of his passengers tell him they all prefer or are slowly moving to Uber. “Customers tell me that city cabbies are rude, refuse short fares, taxis are often dirty. Then it takes time to call the dispatch company and there could sometimes be a delay. With Uber it is easier, drivers are often educated and their vehicles are better maintained and it their fares are 30 percent cheaper than taxis,” he said.
An Uber spokesperson told Can-India that Uber has the advantage of having a large number of drivers at any given time on the road and it offers its customers more flexibility. Also drivers living in Toronto may drive in Brampton, Mississauga, Markham, Pickering or somewhere else in the GTA or someone in Oshawa might sign up and want to drive downtown.
For many students looking to work part-time, Uber allows them flexibility and the ability to earn a decent amount of money depending on the time they have to spare.
To be an Uber driver here are the following requirements:
• You’re at least 21 years old
• Have a 4-door vehicle, 2005 or newer
• Have a driver’s license and insurance
• A great personality and some entrepreneurial spirit!
Uber performs extensive background checks on all drivers as well as checking for any driver license ?issues. Those documents required are:
• Drivers license
• Proof of work eligibility (Passport, SIN card, PR Card, Citizenship, Birth Certificate)
• Vehicle Registration
• Vehicle Insurance
Many drivers like Shahid Ahmed and Harinder who operate taxis in the GTA, Uber is the route they would have taken had it been around a decade ago. “Being a taxi driver today is not worth the trouble,” says Sahid. “The overheads and too high, the hours we have to put in to make ends meet is too much. It affects our families and our health,” he said. With the rise of Uber and car sharing companies like Zipcar, taxi fleets across the GTA will thin out in the years to come. Perhaps then actual doctors will be moonlighting as Uber drivers in their spare time.