Uber, taxi industry take fight over ride-sharing bill to committee

Uber, taxi industry take fight over ride-sharing bill to committee

A representative from the ride-sharing app Uber told the Manitoba legislature on Monday that they should pass a bill that could allow the company to operate in communities across the province.

But a spokesperson for the province’s taxi industry said the bill is unfair and would put taxi drivers out of business.

The Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development held a public hearing to get feedback on Bill 30, The Local Vehicles for Hire Act.

If passed, it would dissolve the Manitoba Taxicab Board, placing responsibility for regulation with local municipalities and potentially allowing ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to move into the marketplace.

Chris Schafer, public policy manager for Uber Canada, told the committee the bill should be passed without changes.

“And give the City of Winnipeg, for the first time, the ability to regulate its own vehicles for hire industry, be that taxi, limousine, or ride-sharing, if that’s what they choose,” he said in an interview with CBC News.

Scott McFadyen of Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition

Scott McFadyen, a spokesperson for Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition, says Bill 30 is unfair to the taxi industry.

A spokesperson for Winnipeg Community Taxi Coalition also spoke at the meeting, telling committee members the bill would devastate the taxi industry.

“They’re bringing forward legislation that, in the stroke of a pen, will eliminate an industry,” Scott McFadyen said in an interview.

McFadyen argued the bill is unfair to taxi drivers, which are heavily regulated and must have things like safety shields, cameras, criminal background and child abuse registry checks, vehicle inspections and extensive training.

“These are members of our community, our neighbours, our friends. They’re small businessmen who have invested considerable sums of money into a taxi licence,” he said.

Shafer said many communities across Canada that have passed by-laws governing ride-sharing services include mandatory criminal background checks.

“That is done on all our prospective drivers, in addition to vehicle inspections and other checks, such as motor vehicle reference checks for ticketable offences like speeding. All of that is done on every prospective Uber driver.”

Technology also enhances safety for riders and drivers, Shafer said. Drivers don’t accept cash, and both the driver and the rider exchange identifying information when the customer books a trip.

“When you take a taxi trip, the driver doesn’t know who is getting in the back seat of the car.”

When the an Uber rider gets in the car, they can share their trip information with a loved one, who can follow via GPS, and at the end the rider can rate their driver, Schafer said.

As for security cameras, Shafer said no communities in Canada that have passed ride-sharing by-laws have required cameras in the vehicles.

Ultimately, McFadyen said it’s a matter of fairness to the taxi industry. “If it walks like a taxi, if it talks like a taxi, it’s a taxi,” he said.

Published at Mon, 23 Oct 2017 23:35:49 -0400