Toronto councillors voted 27-15 late Tuesday night in favour of new rules that would allow ridesharing companies like Uber to operate in the city.
After amendments were put forth by Mayor John Tory, the taxi industry and private transportation companies (PTCs) now have a legal framework where both sides can now compete for passengers.
However, the vote was far from unanimous as some councillors argued the new bylaw is too lenient towards PTCs and would put passenger safety at risk.
Tory said Wednesday the decision prevents a status quo he called a “prescription for continued chaos,” and said the public should be reassured the new rules were close to those recommended by city staff.
Although taxis are required to have cameras inside their vehicles and flashing emergency lights, PTCs will not. It was agreed upon that city staff will report back next year to see if PTCs need cameras.
The new rules passed by council would also raise the base fare for PTCs from $2.50 to $3.25 and taxis are permitted to adopt “surge” pricing for rides booked by a smartphone app.
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When asked whether this will gouge consumers, Tory said “the marketplace, and competition, will make sure the public don’t get taken advantage of,” as companies can opt not to levy surge rates.
The owner of Beck Taxi weighed in, saying it won’t “hold the riding public hostage” with surge pricing.
Meanwhile, Uber sent an in-app message to its Canadian users saying Tory and city council voted to “embrace ride sharing.”
The bylaw also requires taxis, limousines and PTCs to be inspected twice a year with PTCs having to pay a set minimum of insurance.
Taxi and limousine drivers will also no longer be required to go through mandatory CPR and first aid training.
Some members of the taxi industry stormed out of city hall late Tuesday evening following the vote claiming some councillors sold them out.
The city’s taxi owners and operators have long been outspoken about Uber’s operations and its impact on the cab industry.
Toronto lost an attempt to ban Uber last year after a Superior Court judge ruled the transportation company was operating within city bylaws.
With a file from The Canadian Press