The gravy train
The answer to many taxi industry questions about why preferential treatment is given to app-based vehicle-for-hire companies is contained in the Municipal Licensing and Standards 2018 operating budget.
This is a direct quote from the budget posted on the City web site. “PTC regulations permit and regulate companies like Uber and revenue is generated through a licensing fee structure which includes $0.30 per-trip fee for all trips originating in the City of Toronto. A volume adjustment to PTC daily trips from 49,570, as approved in the 2017 budget, to 57,935 will result in additional revenue in 2018 of $0.916 million.”
So in the last two years, licensed Toronto taxis have lost more than 100,000 rides per day to companies like Uber and Lyft, according to the City.
Do the quick math and this translates into $14,871 a day in revenue to the City in 2017, increasing to $17,380 per day estimated for 2018. The City got about $5,427,915 in brand new revenue in 2017 and estimates receiving $6,343,882 in 2018. It is tough to estimate the total value of the rides taxis lost to app-based dispatching over the past few years, but it is certainly massive and far greater than the 30 cents a pop going into the City’s pockets.
No wonder taxi drivers are going broke. It is a situation totally created by the City by allowing grossly unfair competition without restrictions to take root and prosper without the slightest concern for the taxi drivers and owners who devoted their lives to serving the people of and visitors to the city.
Do you think the City will willingly give up this brand new cash cow?
The City doesn’t even think it necessary to enforce whatever bylaws it has governing PTC’s. Enforce laws protecting the public? Let the employer do it. City laws are obviously not the City’s business. Here’s a suggestion: let cab companies enforce City bylaws too. If not, why not? If it is good enough for the PTCs then it is good enough for taxis. Right?
Look at another aspect of the problem the City created: the downloading of all costs and responsibilities for providing wheelchair accessible transportation on to individual taxi operators.
At the time of the last review two years ago, MLS was directed by Council to examine the possibility of financially assisting accessible vehicle operators: helping buy expensive vehicles, subsidizing rides, or find some other way to ease the burden. We have seen no indication the question has been addressed and certainly no help at all is given to struggling operators. Even training these operators is, at best, problematic.
There is some indication that the Province’s intent in its AODA legislation was to place the burden of providing accessible service on municipalities and not have it downloaded on to individuals.
Taxi owner/operator Gerry Manley received an email from the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility saying in part, in the Transportation Standards under the Act, requirements for the provision of on-demand accessible taxi service are placed on municipalities, as opposed to the individual owner/operators. “As a result, individual owners/operators are not accountable under the Act.””
In response to our questions about this message the Ministry sent the following: “Municipalities are tasked with determining the need for on-demand accessible taxicabs in their communities and identifying their progress toward that goal.
“The final decision to purchase and operate an accessible passenger vehicle is ultimately a business decision of an individual taxicab company based on information that they receive, including from municipalities.
“We encourage all taxicab companies to work with their municipalities and their local Accessibility Advisory Committees to better understand the needs of their local communities, and to make informed decisions about how they can meet the market demand of Ontario’s 1.9 million people with disabilities in a manner that is financially viable for them.”
So it may be that the City’s interpretation of the legislation’s intent, if not its’ wording, is wrong. If the City was wrong to foist all the costs on to individual taxi drivers, there will undoubtedly be consequences. We have asked for further clarification from the ministry and will report to you as things progress.