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Taxi drivers file lawsuit against City of Saskatoon

A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of taxi brokers and taxi licence owners takes aim at the City of Saskatoon. File / Global News

The City of Saskatoon has been served with a class-action lawsuit brought by taxi brokers and operators.

The suit filed this week alleges one of the city’s recent bylaws unfairly favours ridesharing companies, such as Uber, having a “catastrophic” effect on the local taxi industry.

READ MORE: Uber launches ridesharing service at Saskatoon city hall

Under the transportation network companies (TNC) bylaw, the city charges every passenger a “per trip fee” on each ride they take with TNCs and has imposed no cap on the number of vehicles.

The class action claims the “per trip fee” is an unconstitutional tax that enriched the city at the expense of taxi owners.

“Taxi owners did everything required of them – paid every fee to license their cars, and every cost to refurbish their vehicles and screen and train only well-qualified drivers who pass city-verified criminal record checks,” Scott Suppes, director and officer of the plaintiff, said in a press release.

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“Under the new TNC bylaw, Saskatoon has given Uber a free ride – TNCs don’t have to pay the costs and fees that the city imposes on taxis. TNCs can spike fares during peak hours of high demand, and at other times undercut the fares that the city requires taxis to charge.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon airport implements flat taxi rates based on zones

According to the statement of claim, taxi owners are seeking damages for the value of previously purchased licences along with lost revenue diverted to TNCs and their drivers.

The suit also argues the bylaw has a discriminatory impact on the majority of taxi drivers whose race, first language, ethnic or national origin, and religion differ from other Canadians, in general, and Saskatoon people in particular.

WATCH (Feb. 6, 2019): Fare difference noticeable between Uber and Saskatoon taxis

Click to play video: 'Fare difference noticeable between Uber and Saskatoon taxis' Fare difference noticeable between Uber and Saskatoon taxis
Fare difference noticeable between Uber and Saskatoon taxis – Feb 6, 2019

In a statement provided on July 19, interim city solicitor Cindy Yelland acknowledged the lawsuit and said they will respond accordingly in court.

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“The city has been served with the class-action lawsuit brought by taxi brokers and operators and is in the process of reviewing the documents. It is our understanding that the class action relates to the introduction of transportation network companies (TNCs) in Saskatoon,” Yelland wrote.

“To maintain the integrity of the city’s legal position we will not comment other than to say the city will respond accordingly in court and allow that process to unfold.”

Uber became the first ridesharing company to operate in Saskatchewan when it launched on Feb. 5 in Saskatoon.

-With files from Global’s Ryan Kessler 

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