City seeks regulatory direction on ride-sharing service
The City of Calgary has been conducting a covert operation to catch local drivers subscribing to the controversial Uber ride-sharing app.
The news, reported by several new agencies Friday, came shortly after City staff presented a report to the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee that asked for input on how to regulate private for-hire transportation companies.
City administration will present those options to council in mid November on ways to regulate private for-hire transportation companies.
The City would not reveal how many drivers have been fined. It has previously threatened to penalize Uber drivers up to $4,500 until regulations are in place.
Officials said it has not fined passengers using the service.
The move comes after the controversial ride-sharing company Uber began operating in Calgary in mid October.
Uber is an app-based service that connects ride-seekers with amateur drivers. Unlike taxi companies that operate in Calgary, however, Uber vehicles are not inspected or licensed by the City. The City also believes there is a risk that drivers, passengers and any third party involved in an accident with one of these vehicles may not receive insurance coverage or may receive only limited coverage.
While all drivers are required to go through background checks with the RCMP, the company’s arrival has been hotly debated in the city. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has been vocal in his concerns about safety and insurance issues related to the company.
“I strongly suggest that you don’t drive for Uber and that you don’t use Uber until the insurance and regulatory issues are sorted out,” he said. “If you drive for Uber, you should be aware that you are breaking the law.”
The company’s arrival has also been met with contention from Calgary’s taxi community, which has claimed the app unfairly avoids fees and regulatory issues by operating outside of the rules.
In addition to Calgary, Uber operates in more than 300 cities around the world.
In a release, the City noted it needs to update its current livery transport bylaw, which does not allow for new technologies and competition. As a result, City staff will present “multiple” options to council at the Nov. 16 meeting that may allow for this change.
“The City continues to evaluate options that will allow private for-hire vehicle companies to operate safely in Calgary,” said Marc Halat, manager of compliance services with the City of Calgary. “Until such time as changes are approved, enforcement efforts will continue under the current bylaw. Citizen safety is always our primary concern.”