Tag Archives: Taxi

Uber protest to hurt NBA All Star weekend in Toronto

The NBA All Star weekend is one of the biggest events on the American sporting calendar, and this year it will be held in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Historic is a good way to describe the February 12 to 14 sporting extravaganza as it is the first time the NBA All-Star is being held outside of the United States.

Canada, the province of Ontario, and the city of Toronto have a lot of pressure because of that fact, and it seems the weekend will face a sizeable obstacle in the form of a giant taxi driver protest.
NBA All Star
Unions representing taxi drivers disgruntled over the rise of the UberX ride-sharing service in the city are organizing a protest next weekend that could bring Toronto to a standstill. Representatives are furious that doors appear to be opening for U.S. based company Uber, which has been operating illegally in Toronto since 2014.

The company is now under consideration for regulation after a city council vote late last year and Aviva Canada’s ride-sharing auto insurance policy for ride-sharing companies has been approved by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). Taxi drivers are awaiting stricter rules against Uber and more protection for their own industry in the face of competition that they view as unfair.

An earlier protest in December brought downtown Toronto to a gridlock and the organizers of the NBA All-Star weekend protest say this new picket will be larger.

“We are going for a heavy duty strike much bigger than December 9th,” said Paul Sekhon, head of the newly formed United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA.

While public transport will still ship the majority of fans to the event, the Toronto government is suitably worried by a protest that could bring large parts of the city, including the area around the Air Canada Centre, to a standstill. Mayor John Tory said the 2016 All-Star game could bring as much as $100 million to the city and he said police may be forced to “take whatever steps necessary” to make sure the event is successful.

“It doesn’t enhance the reputation of the taxi industry or their cause,” Tory said of a protest. “I really, really hope” the industry sees the city is moving as fast as it can.

Quebec taxi drivers push back against Uber

Edmonton reached the historic decision to legalize Uber last week, a move that has been praised and seen several authorities say other Canadian municipalities should follow suit. However, while governments across the country are warming to the UberX ride-sharing service, taxi drivers and their unions remain fiercely opposed.

UberX Insurance
UberX Insurance

In Quebec, a taxi union is going after Uber aggressively this week, looking to take an injunction out against the United States based company. Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos represents more than 4,000 taxi drivers and owners across the province and in its general assembly held in Montreal on Sunday, the union decided to take drastic action against Uber.

The group believes the UberX service is unfair competition because it is operating in the province without regulation, essentially serving Quebec consumers as an illegal service. The union thinks the local municipal government should take charge of the situation and clamp down on Uber’s operations in Quebec, unless the company complies by existing taxi laws and regulations.

Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallos now says it will seek an injunction against Uber, meaning the company would have to stop working in Quebec. That injunction could come as soon as Tuesday, but evidence from other regions in the country suggests Uber will carry on operating in Quebec regardless of authority pressure.

A spokesman speaking for the San Francisco based company said as much, while adding that any union injunction would be “without merit”.

“As we have seen from Superior Courts rulings across Canada, Uber is a new transportation model distinct from the traditional taxi industry,” said spokesman Jean-Christophe De Le Rue.

The taxi driver union said that it will also be taking a court action against Uber in a bid to recoup loss of earnings drivers say they suffered because of the illegal competition UberX brought to the province.

London taxi drivers hit back against Uber

London has been one of the most welcoming cities in regard to Uber, certainly next to the fury caused in Canadian Urban areas. Sure, the UK capital has seen protests or roadblock demonstrations, but for the most part the ride-sharing service has enjoyed a smooth transition into the London market.

Make no mistake though, in London the ferocity of emotion displayed by taxi drivers over the arrival of the UberX service is alive and well. Of course, those taxis are the iconic Black Cabs and the drivers are the people who know London’s streets better than anyone thanks to the famed “Knowledge”. Uber is a pesky upstart, but it is an upstart that is hitting the traditional industry and now taxi drivers in London are hitting back.
Uber London Protest
Cab drivers in the largest city in the European Union are striking against Uber in a more nuanced way compared to their Canadian counterparts. Last year, taxi drivers in Toronto brought the city center to a shuddering halt with a protest that was poorly received by consumers and authorities alike.

In London a different tactic is being employed as London Black Cab Supporters have created a group called Action for Cabbies, and have initiated a crowdfunding pitch that seeks a judicial review of Transport for London’s 2012 decision to grant Uber a license to operate in the city. Yes, the big difference between London and Canada is that Uber is regulated in the UK city, but cabbies are still not happy.

It is perhaps a situation that can be expected in Canada when cities around the country (led by Toronto) finally get around to drawing up regulatory guidelines for the UberX service. Once in place, Uber will be able to operate legally in a given city, but if London is an indicator the problems with traditional taxi groups will not be over.

“TfL (Transport for London) is inept,” Mercer tells TechCrunch. “They really need to stop faffing around. Bringing in new legislation to cap the amount of new licenses that they’re issuing – I’m told it’s about nearly 800 a week last week. Touting is going on, there aren’t adequate insurance checks or legal background checks with a lot of these PHV new licenses. It’s paramount to public safety that TfL regulates and they’re not doing that. And they’re operating outside their remit by giving licenses and creating operators who operate outside the legal framework.”

Action for Cabbies is seeking £600,000 via crowdfunder.co.uk, an amount that will be used to finance the first stages of what the group hopes will be a full legal action against Uber’s regulatory license to operate in London.

“If… permission is granted the application would then be heard in open Court with both parties having the right to make their case,” notes the group’s lawyers, Rosenblatt Solicitors, in a statement. “It may be that Uber itself would appear in Court too on the basis that it has a vested interest in the outcome and if so they would have the chance also to make their case.”