Some things are black and white then there’s regulations for operating Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) in Saskatoon.
On Wednesday, the city’s transportation committee picked up where it left off last week, spending four-plus hours fine-tuning rules which should apply to companies like Uber and Lyft for council’s consideration.
The committee was clear it’s not tasked with eliminating the competition for taxi cab companies, but just making things a level playing field by refining some 20 regulations for TNCs.
During the meeting, the committee gained some ground on a number of concerns including advocating to the provincial government that a “vulnerable sector check” should be required of ride-share drivers.
Taxi drivers in the city are already subjected to this as part of their standard criminal record check and is typically asked of people in positions of authority or trust when it comes to children or vulnerable persons.
They also voted down making city or company decals mandatory for ride-shares. Other items on the agenda were insurance, vehicle inspection accessibility, licence caps and fares.
A massive change that occurred during the meeting was a recommendation by Mayor Charlie Clark that the minimum fare charged by both taxi cab companies and ride-shares be the same.
A starting point of $3.75 for passengers whether they hail a cab or call an Uber. Prior to this, it was going to be $3.75 if you caught a cab and $3.10 for a ride-share, which is just slightly higher than if you were to take public transit.
It’s something Uber Canada was not in favour of when asked last week. On Wednesday, cab companies said they would be opposed to surge pricing because they didn’t think it was fair.
By late afternoon, it was decided as a condition of licensing TNCs, certain safety features would need to be met.
The committee also asked for further reports on certain proposed regulatory components to help provide more clarity.
Flex-Service and SaskPlates proposals were also touched on. Suggestions submitted by the two groups within the taxi industry were to improve the ability of the industry to meet demand during peak periods.
Flex-Service would allow additional vehicles to be put on roadways, whereas SaskPlates would see an additional 50 taxi licences that could operate at any time and be issued to drivers through a lottery, in lieu of the current seasonal plates.
The proposed regulations now go before city council in late July when the committee said they hope to hear more from industry and administration at that time.