June 2018

It’s time City and Police Services take a good hard look at the frequency and size of financial penalties unfairly imposed on taxi drivers

There are a few things to talk about this month.

Gerry Manley points out to me the bylaw does have certain requirements shared by taxis and Private Transportation Company vehicles with various sections mentioning insurance requirements, criminal background checks, driving abstracts, mechanical safety inspections, vehicle requirements and types of tires (snow or all weather) required.

I was unclear about the actual bylaw requirements in my column last month, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that PTC’s do not receive even marginal attention from authorities regarding enforcement of what regulations governing their actions that do exist.

Manley also notes, and has documentation, that the Canada Revenue Agency treats PTCs as “taxi businesses” rather than as a separate type of business as do various municipal bylaws, including Toronto.

Manley argues that if PTCs are defined under senior laws (federal) as taxi businesses then those providing the vehicles and doing the driving are “taxi drivers.” Therefore, he suggests, any set of laws setting out different requirements for taxis and PTCs are illegal.

I don’t pretend to know if he is right, and it may well take a court case to sort it out.

Meanwhile it is open season for all authorities to over-ticket and possibly illegally ticket traditional taxis.

On this point I have received a number of complaints from cab drivers about getting tickets at legal cab stands during rush hours.

I certainly think it is highly possible, if not probable, that there is confusion on both sides of this equation about what taxis can and cannot do regarding parking, standing, whatever, during rush hours.

I’m not a lawyer so this is based on a layman’s opinion of what the bylaw says.

Taxis are NOT allowed to sit on cabstands, or in No Parking and No Standing areas waiting for fares during prohibited times (rush hours).

Taxis ARE allowed to take a reasonable amount of time to stop to pick up or drop off passengers at any time. This means being actively engaged in picking up or dropping off, NOT waiting for an expected passenger to show up. This “grace period” over the years has sort of informally turned out to be about three minutes. It could be longer if the passenger is disabled (it takes longer to secure and offload these customers.)

It is entirely possible many cab drivers do not understand these differences, particularly as they get zero or next to zero training on the huge number (more than 1600) of city laws that govern taxi operations.

It is also entirely possible many police and Parking Enforcement Officers also do not know the law regarding picking up and dropping off, and cab drivers are unfairly or illegally ticketed for doing exactly what the law allows and passengers expect.

I also take it as a given that too many ticketers take the attitude that if drivers think they are unfairly ticketed they should “tell it to the Judge.” They don’t know (or care) that it costs more to dispute a ticket in court than pay the fine and move on. In fact, they may actually count on this reaction. Certainly the officer who issues a bad ticket suffers zero penalties in court and is in fact paid to show up. Those who do not see the injustice in this must be City employees or politicians.

Speaking of politicians, I see Mississauga is poised to continue a pro-PTC so-called “pilot project” allowing Uber, Lyft, etc to operate with a looser set of rules than taxis. Of course the pilot project will be allowed to continue. Like in Toronto, the concepts of decency and fairness seem to be utterly beyond the comprehension of politicians there. And naturally, PTCs are incredibly lucrative cash cows for government so there is no incentive for the powers that be to act morally or with any semblance of decency.

Finally, the International Transport Forum is an intergovernmental organization with 59 member countries engaged in a global dialogue for better transport. It acts as a think tank for transport policy and hosts the Annual Summit of transport ministers. The ITF is the only politically autonomous global body covering all transport modes.

Anyone who thinks driverless vehicles are science fiction should really think again. Governments around the world are looking hard at these new technologies and I can foresee the day when taxi drivers are simply not going to be needed except perhaps for transporting the disabled. I submit this kind of information should be of serious long-term interest to all in the taxi industry.

In a May 23rd news release this body says “Automated vehicles promise more safety by eliminating crashes linked to human error. But claims that self-driving cars could avoid 90 percent of road deaths by eliminating these errors are untested.”

It continues, “Shared responsibility between robot and human drivers can in fact lead to more complex driving decisions. The unintended consequences might make driving less safe, not more. In situations where humans take over control from robots, more crashes might occur among ‘average’ drivers who normally do not take risks.”

The ITF report, “Safer Roads with Autonomous Vehicles?” was initiated and supported by the Corporate Partnership Board of the International Transport Forum. It can be downloaded at https://www.itf-oecd.org/safer-roads-automated-vehicles.

It recommends designing automated vehicles so that safety-critical systems are “functionally independent and cannot fail in case of connectivity issues.”

As well it says it is “urgent” to “adopt a Safe System approach” to road transport organizing all elements of road traffic in a way that when one safety mechanism fails, another steps in to prevent a crash, or at least serious injury. The idea is to “account for machine errors.”

It says “The regulatory framework should ensure maximum achievable road safety, guaranteed by industry, as a precondition of allowing these vehicles … to operate.”

Other recommendations include: reporting safety-relevant data, developing a staged testing regime for automated vehicles, create cyber-security principles for automated driving and provide clear and targeted messaging of vehicle capabilities.


2018 Taxi News


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