Vehicles-for-hire bylaw leaves 'bad taste in our mouth,' limo company says

Vehicles-for-hire bylaw leaves 'bad taste in our mouth,' limo company says

Limousine drivers in Winnipeg say new licence requirements under the city’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw will add costs and could drive some independent operators out of the market.

“All these changes are being made basically to accommodate the Uber and the ride-sharing companies,” said Shawn Gliddon, business development director for Winnipeg Limousine Service.

He said the new rules, which were passed in December and come into effect March 1, leave “a bit of a bad taste in our mouth.”

Under the new bylaw, anyone running a vehicle-for-hire must have a dispatch licence, which can cost anywhere between $2,000 for fleets of up to 10 vehicles to more than $10,000 for fleets of 50 or more.

There will be two types of dispatcher licences — one for taxis, and one for personal transportation providers, or PTPs.

Under the new rules, limousine companies will be licensed as personal transportation providers, the same as ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. 

Gliddon says companies like his, which has a fleet of about a dozen vehicles, will be able absorb the added costs by changing their pricing structure, but independent and part-time operators will have a harder time adjusting to the new reality.

“The independent guy who’s a one-day, two-day [per week] type of guy, that’s a fair chunk of change to put out,” said Gliddon, who attended a meeting with the City of Winnipeg on Monday to find out more about the new dispatcher licences and requirements.

Colin Stewart, policy analyst with the Winnipeg Parking Authority, says the fees are set by council.

The dispatch licences were needed to bring regulation to the ride-for-hire industry, he said.

“There’s no control over the dispatchers, there’s no reporting, there’s no anything, other than the basic business requirements,” he said.

Now, vehicle-for-hire companies will have to keep records on how many accessible vehicles they have in their fleet and how many accessible trips they provide.

In addition to the annual fee, PTP services will pay a three-cent safety charge per trip. If less than 10 per cent of the vehicles in the fleet are accessible vehicles, the charge goes up to seven cents.

Safe ride service gets exemption

The new bylaw also sets out rules for groups offering voluntary ride services based on donations. Now groups accepting donations must be incorporated as non-profits, they must offer rides even if no donation is offered, and anyone who makes a donation must get a receipt.

So far, Ikwe Safe Ride — which offers safe rides for women by women drivers — is the only group that has met with the city and complies with the new regulations, Stewart said.

Ikwe director Christine Brouzes said it was important that the safe ride service continue.

“Because we’re very different than all the other safe-ride groups. We’re the biggest, we’ve been around the longest and we’re registered, we have board meetings, we have policy, procedure, mission statements, the whole shebang. We’re not just a Facebook group,” she said.

In order to comply with the new regulations, Ikwe had to change some of the wording in its advertising. Instead of listing a minimum donation, it now suggests a “recommended” donation.

Any companies operating without a dispatch licence will be hit with a $1,000 fine.

Stewart says enforcement will be carried out based on complaints.

Published at Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:00:00 -0500