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CBC News — Edmonton's example shows Uber rules need to be flexible and fair

 
Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said Monday Bill 30, the Local Vehicles for Hire Act, intends to modernize Winnipeg's taxi industry to include app-based ride-booking services like Uber. The act transfers taxi oversight powers from the Manitoba Taxicab Board to the city. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said Monday Bill 30, the Local Vehicles for Hire Act, intends to modernize Winnipeg's taxi industry to include app-based ride-booking services like Uber. The act transfers taxi oversight powers from the Manitoba Taxicab Board to the city. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Mike Chong, director of business strategy and operations with the City of Edmonton, said his office is in constant conversation with stakeholders in the cab industry — conventional taxi operators and new players like Uber — to sort out questions and concerns related to its vehicle-for-hire bylaws.

"Our intent is to provide consumers with choice, maintain public safety, treat various stakeholders equitably, so each has an opportunity to succeed," said Chong.

Edmonton is able to regulate its taxi industry for just over $1 million a year, all which is covered by the licences it issues to drivers and dispatchers, he said.

Unicity Taxi president Gurmail Mangat said he supports Uber on Winnipeg streets so long as they have to play under the same rules as his business.

"If there is a level [playing] field we have no problem competing," he said. "We need to have some guidelines, regulations on them too."

Edmonton was the first municipality in Canada to officially make Uber legal when city councillors updated bylaws in January 2016.

Later that same year, Alberta passed regulations relating to "transportation network companies" like Uber. An insurance hiccup briefly put Uber service in Edmonton on hold but in July it resumed and remains in service.

Alberta's taxi rules require, among other things, that all new companies  first apply for approval to operate in the province, conduct annual criminal background checks on drivers and bar anyone from driving cabs who has a recent criminal conviction.

Chong said in general the same rules that govern conventional taxis apply to Uber other similar services and that fairness is important.

"They are required to have proper insurance, an appropriate police information check and a correct class of provincial driver's licence," he said.

The biggest difference is that Uber can only accept pre-arranged trips; conventional taxis are allowed to pick up someone waving or whistling for a cab.

Uber drivers are not required to post their licence in their cabs but customers can see them on their apps, said Chong.

Uber may 'exacerbate' workload, says board member

Winnipeg Indigenous academic and member of the Manitoba Taxicab Board, Leah Gazan, said if her board is dissolved, its replacement will need to be larger and more robust to handle complaints.

She's concerned "massively expanding" the number of cabs in Winnipeg by allowing Uber into the market will make it difficult to keep on top of safety complaints.

"We're already working as a board really hard to address as is," she said. "Adding more to that I think will exacerbate the crisis we're in."

Gazan said any new regulatory body would also need to regulate dispatch in order to truly have a handle on the industry.

"It's hard to regulate a system when you're only regulating parts of it," she said. Edmonton's regulatory framework includes dispatch along with drivers.

 
 

Source

Glowacki, L. (2017, March 22). Edmonton's example shows Uber rules need to be flexible and fair | CBC News. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/edmonton-uber-winnipeg-1.4035284

 
ArticleKarl Patton