Uber is seen as an existential threat to taxi industry

Toronto, September 18 (CINEWS): For decades now, new technology has created new jobs and often displaced other jobs. Today taxi drivers are worried about losing their livelihood to Uber but who knows in ten years both taxi drivers and Uber drivers will be protesting the introduction of self-driven cars that will put them all out of business. But for now, the business at City Hall was deciding the fate of Uber.toronto-beck-uber-protest
On Wednesday, the Licensing and Standards committee at Toronto City Hall met and it was decided that council will meet in two weeks to debate the issue and discuss how to further regulate UberX. The popularity of UberX is undeniable and it is clear demand is growing as more condos go up and young people eschew car ownership.
While the Toronto Taxi Alliance wants the city to have greater oversight over Uber and regulate them much the same way as them, Uber says it’s open to working with the city to develop regulations for its service.
Cab drivers, as well as some outspoken councillors, still want the service ended and say if it isn’t, it could kill off the taxi industry entirely.
The city staff report at the heart of today’s debate calls for the following changes:
• That Uber and services like it be included in updated taxi and limousine regulations.
• Taxi fares be dropped by $1 to $3.25 to make traditional cabs more competitive.
• A new licensing category be created to cover services like Uber. It would require them to carry insurance, buy a permit, conduct a background check on drivers and ensure vehicles are safe.
It’s the recommendation to create a new licensing category for so-called transportation network companies (TNCs), that has traditional cab drivers most upset. They say the new category will create a two-tiered system when they were promised one set of rules for all cab companies.
Taxi drivers are outraged that there should be two sets of rules for the same service. Uber points out that their business model is different. Taxis are often on the road 24/7 and taxi drivers drive 8-12 hours on average. Uber drivers typically do it part-time and average ten hours a week. So clearly the regulations need to be flexible.
UberX now accounts for about 17,000 trips a day.
According to several taxi drivers this reporter has spoken to, a large number of taxi drivers are either Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani or Somali and the number of South Asian Uber drivers is exploding. Most of these drivers work through the week and drive in the evenings and weekends. “These days business on weekends are bad because there are more Uber drivers on the road. Some taxi drivers have become Uber drivers and work part-time elsewhere,” he claimed. If you can’t beat them, join them. If Uber becomes a better business proposition than driving or owning a taxi, then taxi drivers will be joining the other side.

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