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ATOOL’s day in court

The lawsuit certification hearing of the class action suit filed by representatives of Toronto’s taxi industry scheduled for November 17, 18 and 19 is a first, serious hurdle on the long road to try to force the City to treat this industry with respect, decency and fairness.

It is, in fact, tragic that it has come to this. All the City had to do from the outset was to govern the new PTC taxi competitors as it has governed traditional taxis for decades. Put in rules and enforce them fairly.

The City was obviously unwilling to do this. It treated the Ubers and Lyfts and other PTC outfits not just with kidd gloves, but with preferential treatment that is ongoing. It does not enforce bylaws that do apply to PTC cars, drivers and the companies themselves.

In a much touted investigation against illegal pickups by Uber drivers about 3 years ago, dubbed “Operation Snowball” where more than 70 charges were laid, not one has yet to be adjudicated in bylaw court. Cab drivers are vigorously prosecuted by the City. Uber drivers get a free pass. This is somehow right? Well, only in the minds of our Mayor and ever vigilant City Councillors and bureaucrats.

Cab drivers regularly appear before the Toronto Licensing Tribunal to see if they can continue to keep their license. We can recall only 2, maybe 3 PTC drivers appearing before the TLT, and those only in the past couple of months.

This is because the City, in its infinite wisdom, gave bylaws and even provincial laws (such as insurance requirements) to the Ubers and Lyfts to enforce. They can obviously be trusted right? Driver vetting for criminal and driving histories is done by a third party for the PTCs, not by government. It is not as if Uber and Lyft, etc. have a vested interest in keeping their drivers on the road, or anything. They only make all of their money through their drivers, so obviously they can be trusted to keep the bad ones out of the business, or something. Heck of a job they are doing on that file isn’t it? Lawsuits by raped and abused women around the world kind of tell a different story, if our City officials care to look. Please tell the mother of Nicholas Cameron, a passenger killed in an Uber driven by a man with only 2 days experience in Toronto, vetted and approved by Uber, not the City, how much the City cares about passenger safety. Chicago demands PTCs report on how many drivers it kicks off its platform due to sexual and other assaults on passengers. Toronto doesn’t care.

Toronto, we suspect, deliberately threw traditional taxi drivers to the wolves. Again, we suspect, because the City could not stand the idea of taxi drivers actually having something of value (the taxi operating license), in their pocket to provide a retirement income after decades of serving the City, its visitors and residents. Oh, and that value was deliberately created by, guess, who? The City itself, decades ago. This resulted in generations of people in the taxi business planning their entire working lives based on their obviously misguided faith the City would honor its commitments.

This is a major reason why the ATOOL lawsuit was brought to this stage. If the City cannot act with honor and decency it is hoped the courts will see the City’s actions and non-actions regarding the PTCs to be what they are: a deliberate and unconscionable betrayal of an entire industry. The motive? Money. Many millions of new dollars flowing into the City treasury. Other provinces are admitting they failed in their clear duty to taxi people. Quebec is now pledging $800 million in compensation for lost business value resulting from government failure to act responsibly. Other Canadian regulatory bodies and jurisdictions are facing similar legal actions.

Laws are belatedly being passed world-wide to rein in PTCs. Meanwhile, Uber admits it lost about $8 billion in the first quarter of 2019 alone, partly because it artificially creates cheap fares to attract customers. Want to bet once it has destroyed traditional taxi businesses worldwide, it will jack up its fares dramatically? It has already done so in Egypt.

ATOOL needs money to proceed with the lawsuit. We believe the City is banking on taxi owners being unwilling to protect their assets. At $500 a plate, the cost should not break anyone. We think this is your last, best chance to bring the City to account. We urge all who have not contributed to do so, sooner rather than later. The alternative, as far as we can tell, is total ruin for all of you.

 

© 2019 Taxi News

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November 2019

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