The city of Toronto is seeking a court injunction against Uber, an app based taxi service that connects people with available drivers using a Smartphone.
The city contends that the app poses a number of safety risks to the public and the app also operates in violation of the city licensing bylaws.
The city is asking the Superior Court to force Uber to cease operations as it filed a court injunction on November 25th, adding to the number of legal issues the taxi services is experiencing across North America.
“By its actions, it is the city’s opinion that Uber is jeopardizing public safety, including that of individuals they are recruiting as drivers,” said Tracey Cook, executive director of Toronto’s licensing and standards division. “They are continuing to operate in flagrant disregard of the laws of both the city and the province.”
Uber is a San Francisco based company, valued at $17 billion. The business is based on a mobile application that allows you to request a taxi with only a few quick taps. The app uses GPS to match an available driver in your area. Uber is currently available in more than 50 countries and continues to expand globally.
Why the injunction?
There are two main reasons the city of Toronto is filing a court injunction:
The city argues that the company has operated illegally in Toronto since 2012, a time span where Uber has been charged with more than 30 bylaw infractions. The city contends that Uber does not have the proper licensing in place to operate as a limo brokerage or taxi service.
Taxi and limo service providers in the GTA agree. Under the current bylaws, taxi brokerages are required to pay $300 per year in licensing fees, a fee Uber is currently not paying.
However, Uber argues that the company is a technology provider, omitting it from taxi licensing bylaws.
2. Public safety
The city also argues that public safety is at risk as Uber uses unregulated and unlicensed drivers. The biggest issue for the city is Uber’s black car service and its newly launched UberX service. This service allows people to request unmarked and unlicensed cars to drive them to their required destination. This service creates safety issues for not only the passengers, but also the drivers.
Toronto is not the first municipality to have issues with Uber. Mississauga, Montreal, and Vancouver are also having issues, in addition to a number of protests being held by drivers in the US.
The Pros and Cons of Uber
Toronto City Councillor Gord Perks argues there are a number of potential issues that could arise if Uber continues to operate unregulated. In Eight reasons why Toronto should push back at Uber, he argues the following points:
- It could become an insurance issue
- There are issues with driver screening
- Surge pricing on holidays and busy periods takes advantage of consumers
- Unlicensed drivers pose risks to passengers
- Employment practices could become an issue with drivers
- Privacy issues with protecting consumers personal information
- Denial of service could create serious ethical issues
On the other hand, mayor-elect John Tory argues that these new type of services and technology are here to stay. Consumers are using the service, so there is demand for this type of technology in the marketplace.
What do you think? Should Uber be allowed to continue to operate as it currently does? Is the city of Toronto right in requesting the company be subject to the current taxi and limo service bylaws?