London taxi industry looks to city hall for help

In this file photo, The Uber logo is seen in front of protesting taxi drivers at the courthouse Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Tempers flared at London city hall Tuesday night over a familiar topic.

Members of the taxi industry spoke to the community and protective services committee, asking for changes to be made to the cost structure. They said that their business has fallen by 40 per cent since Uber was given the green light by council eight months ago.

President of Yellow Taxi London Hasan Savehilaghi says the perception among taxi drivers is that council is against them.

“This is not my personal view at all, but their general understanding is that city council is basically planning to get rid of the taxi industry altogether.”

City staff say there are over 2,000 Uber drivers in London, but only 354 cabs, 19 accessible cabs and 89 limos.

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Ward 2 Coun. Bill Armstrong spoke at length multiple times, harshly criticizing council for their previous decision on Uber.

“They’ve (taxi drivers) made the investment as we can see, not just capital investment but operating investment,” said Armstrong. “They’re having a hard time making it, you introduced a virus into a business ecosystem and this is the result.”

City staff say a report will be presented in January, which takes a closer look at some of the specific numbers in London’s taxi industry.

Another report will be presented in the spring about various aspects of the industry.

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