The Uber Gravy Train
Well, we finally get an answer about the long-awaited and now well over a year overdue analysis and report on the effects of the City’s controversial taxi industry reforms of 2016.
It is not good news. We shouldn’t expect anything out of Municipal Licensing and Standards until perhaps April 2019. Even then, in the run up and preparation for this report, we are told that the consultation process will focus on taxi accessibility issues and not on the state of the industry overall.
When further consultations with the industry take place, with the announced focus on accessibility issues, we expect the City to get an ear full about the high cost of operating accessible vehicles and the lack of demand for this service. Yet Toronto Taxi License holders likely should not hold their breath for relief. The City will likely ignore their plight.
We also expect the City to get an even greater blasting about the disastrous effects of overcrowding the city with for-hire-vehicles to the point where no one is making any money in the business. The City said in 2015/16 it wanted to create a “level playing field.” It did nothing of the sort. Regular taxi drivers are going broke and Uber drivers are apparently making far less than minimum wage. We don’t hear much about Lyft and other app-based company successes or failures, so can’t comment about how they are doing. But the City doesn’t care. It is making money hand over fist and doesn’t give a hoot about you.
We now know MLS is sucking up over $8.5 million a year from PTC fees and rake-offs, while apparently doing little to nothing for this extra revenue. No one, at least in the taxi industry, believes for a minute MLS is doing any enforcement at all against any of the app-based PTCs. It is no wonder the City is doing zero to assist the traditional taxi industry. All this new-found money is pure gravy for City finances. You are paying the human cost.
Meanwhile the latest report on the King St. Transit Pilot Project shows commuters on streetcars are saving a whopping two minutes on commutes while businesses along the street are hurting and the City is bending over backwards to help them. Yet the City ignores the plight of cab drivers.
The TTC brags ridership is up. Of course the apologists for this project say more riders are using transit along this route, while conveniently and deliberately ignoring the fact that the TTC increased the number of vehicles along King, making rides less crowded, more frequent and more convenient for passengers. This is what passes for honesty at City Hall these days. No one with any degree of awareness believes this experiment is working, yet the transit people and politicians keep trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Taxpayers, including you, actually pay these people for this stuff.
Meanwhile, what with personnel changes at MLS, including retirements and promotions, we are told much expertise in dealing with taxi issues has been lost, giving rise to delays and frustrations among license holders (and to be fair, probably among MLS staff as well).
There are municipal and provincial elections this year. We encourage the taxi industries in both Toronto and Mississauga particularly, and the GTHA in general, to become actively involved in the campaigns of candidates who understand your issues and are willing to do something about rectifying this gross injustice.
For example, City of Toronto Councillor Georgio Mammolitti has announced he is running provincially. Over the years he has consistently supported traditional taxis and taxi drivers and we suggest you consider supporting him in this effort.
At the same time, municipally, we ask if you think Mayors Tory and Crombie have been your friends and allies or have they worked against your interests? There may well be candidates from the taxi industry running. Perhaps they deserve your support.
When you think of all the people taxi drivers deal and talk with daily, we submit your voices telling of your unhappiness with the status quo may well have an impact far beyond your individual votes.