Fighting city hall

A broad spectrum group of taxi people has come to the point where they have filed a Notice of Intent to sue the City over how it has handled the whole City-enabled Uber/Lyft, etc. rape of the Toronto taxi market.

We have not yet seen the court filing so can not comment in detail on what their arguments are or will be when they finally come before a Judge.

We agree with comments to the effect this will not be a short or cheap process. It will require wide industry financial support if it is going to go anywhere.

It is also likely true that if this suit does not effectively go forward, the Toronto taxi industry is on its deathbed.

Some taxi owners and peripheral participants over past decades have said these actions are not their fight. They have been utterly self-centered, blinkered and wrong not to become involved. They have seen their businesses go into the trash bin as a result, one of the great tragedies of taxis here. The industry’s decline has largely been due to too many of some of the biggest owners, taxi garages, fleet operators and common cab drivers not fighting for their rights and accepting their responsibilities.

Other jurisdictions in North America are going the courts route. A class action suit against Uber has been approved in Ottawa. A lawsuit against regulators is progressing in San Fransisco. A Toronto lawsuit is not a wild pipe dream.

Put another way: it sure looks to us as if this is pretty much your last chance to save your businesses.

The group is asking for $500 per participant. Look at what your plates and livelihoods were worth before the City granted unfettered access to the taxi marketplace and look at those values now. $500 is a drop in the bucket.

Some might actually say they will pin their hopes on the newest round of “consultations” and industry “review” announced by the City last month. In our view, these folks are dreaming in Technicolor.

Look at what was actually announced the “review” will cover and then look at the real world issues that must be addressed. There is virtually no overlap between these opposites. The City will not, and has absolutely no intention, of addressing the real issues you all face daily.

Whether this is due to willful blindness, incompetence or deliberate intent is food for debate. Come down to it, it does not matter.

Will the City deal with the gross oversupply of for hire vehicle service in the city or deal with improving public safety and ensure app-based drivers are operating properly insured and maintained vehicles, particularly app-based dispatch services? No.

Will it deal with app-based services not providing accessible services as required by law? No.

Will it ensure all these app-based drivers are properly trained and know how to safely drive paying customers or adequately ensure they are competently vetted for criminal backgrounds? No.

Will the City actually enforce its bylaws using properly trained and legally empowered law enforcement personnel, instead of as they are now doing, leaving it up to these private companies to enforce City laws. No.

Incidentally, the obscenity of this last point is mind-boggling. How allegedly responsible City officials and politicians could possibly think this is a good idea is utterly beyond rational comprehension. The City doesn’t even know how many of these drivers are breaking laws enforced on licensed taxi people. It is beyond incredible.

Doubtless you can find other issues the City does not plan to address.

So we can confidently say at this point the City will not even marginally deal with the disaster it created for 10,000-plus licensed taxi drivers and several thousand taxi owners, never mind the fleet operators and other taxi-related businesses who sincerely believed in the honesty and integrity of the City, its politicians and bureaucrats.

We wish this new group every success and say again: they need your financial support.


2018 Taxi News


August 2018