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(Posted 9:30 a.m., Oct. 23)
City releases second set of taxi review discussion papers

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

In its efforts to review and possibly amend the regulations governing the taxi industry, the City of Ottawa has released the second of three sets of discussion papers aimed at informing and educating the general public on the issue.

The first set of discussion papers were released last week. One contained case studies comparing the vehicle-for-hire industry, including app-based services like Uber, in six other jurisdictions in North America including Toronto, Waterloo and Vancouver.

The second document explains key elements of the existing regulations and bylaws governing the vehicle-for-hire industry in Ottawa.

The two discussion papers released earlier this week focus on emerging issues in the taxi and limousine industry, such as Uber, and accessibility issues.

The final two documents to be released next week, will compare customer experience in the vehicle-for-hire and industry and taxi economics.

Members of the public are being invited to download the documents at www.ottawa.ca and provide feedback on the contents.

It’s a big ask considering the first four discussion papers contain 104 pages.

The feedback the city receives will be used to put together a set of policy options for further discussions.

The taxi industry review is being conducted as the debate over what to do with app-based, vehicle-for-hire providers like Uber continues to heat up.

The unlicensed, non-regulated service is currently illegal in Ottawa. Since Uber first arrived on the scene a year ago, 142 charges have been laid against Uber drivers resulting in 116 convictions leading to fines of between $615 and $750.

By comparison, Uber drivers caught operating in Quebec risk having their vehicles impounded.

It’s worth noting that Uber estimates it has roughly 1,000 driver-partners in the city.

The controversial vehicle-for-hire provider operates in more than 300 cities around the world and has an estimated valuation of over $50 billion.

Not surprsingly, the loudest opposition to Uber is coming from the city’s 2,600 licensed taxi drivers who say Uber operators are taking food off their tables.

Cab drivers must pay an annual $217 license renewal fee, and a $584 plate holder renewal fee for a total annual expense of $801. They must also adhere to a long list of regulations governing everyone from the condition of their cabs to their personal appearance. Uber has no system of standards.

The current review is being governed by three guiding principles: public safety; accessibility; and consumer protection.

Residents can provide their comments on the subject either by e-mail to taxi@ottawa.ca, or phone at 613-580-8294. Comments can also be left on the city’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cityofottawa.

Analysis of the research and the public’s input will lead to the publication of a policy options paper providing a final opportunity for input before the draft report is prepared and submitted to city’s emergency and protective services committee by the end of he year.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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