The taxi cartel may finally be getting its way.
Uber sent a letter to its Toronto users earlier this week saying it could be forced to shut down operations in the city as early as May 3. The company will have no choice but to halt its service if city council passes proposed new transportation regulations that would leave Uber outside of the law.
The memo was short and not so sweet:
““Last week, the Licensing and Standards Committee voted to force Uber out of Toronto. If City Council votes the same way on May 3, Toronto will lose ridesharing (uberX) and the benefits that come with it.”
While it’s not set in stone, things don’t look promising. The licensing and standards committee is understood to be on friendly terms with the taxi industry, and Uber was also recently forced to suspend operations in Edmonton – the first Canadian city to legalize the service earlier this year – after Alberta backtracked on its plan to grant drivers the necessary insurance.
The situation in Toronto is similar: city staff drafted a host of Uber-friendly regulations a few weeks ago only to the licensing and standards committee banish them them in City Hall a week later in a resounding 5-1 vote.
Uber has created a petition urging residents to support smart ridesharing regulations – essentially rules that place Uber just within the law and are strict enough to barely appease taxi drivers. Not an easy task by any means. As of writing, the petition has just under 70,000 signatures.
In addition to losing what has become a go-to transportation option in the city, Uber’s departure would also signal the loss of around 15,000 jobs for drivers who make extra income on their own schedule.