Gone are the wild west days of Toronto transportation, where anyone with a smartphone could summon a rogue driver for a ride.
The City of Toronto announced yesterday that it has issued a license for UberX, becoming the first city in Canada to legalize the taxi industry’s bane of existence since Edmonton kind of did it in January but not really.
Toronto has approved Uber for a Private Transportation Company licence, a kind of “special status” that affords it exceptional terms on account of its size and significance kind of like the U.K. after Brexiting.
The license will allow the city to screen UberX drivers for criminal backgrounds, driving record, and insurance, an arrangement even the taxi side can agree with.
“We’re glad Uber has been brought into the regulatory framework, that they will have to respect the responsibilities that come along with that,” wrote Beck Taxi operations manager Kristine Hubbard in an email to the Globe and Mail. “We look forward to the city screening and licensing individual Uber drivers as soon as possible to ensure that all ground transportation options are safe for Torontonians.”
In line with Uber’s disruptive tendencies, the decision essentially voids a protest Toronto cabbies had scheduled to take place this morning. Some among the taxi industry have dismissed the licensing announcement as a stunt given its timing on the eve of the demonstration, which meekly went ahead anyway somewhere in East York:
“They are playing with the innocent lives of taxi drivers,” said Paul Sekhon, the head of the United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA, as if his colleagues had been subject to some sort of human rights violation.
Uber said they’re happy with the decision and we all live to see another day.