To the editor,
(Editor’s note: This letter first appeared as a widely circulated email written by Gerry Manley and is followed by an email reply written by frequent Taxi News contributor Peter Pellier.)
We need to look back at the history of ride-sharing companies that set up business in Toronto. The first company was Hailo who operated an app the very same as Uber’s yet the way the City dealt with Hailo, which no longer operates in Toronto, was entirely different and raises many serious questions about how and why City officials have chosen to regulate so-called ride-sharing the way they have.
Before Hailo was allowed to operate in Toronto, they had to obtain a City brokerage licence and once that was issued, Hailo was mandated to work under all the same rules as any other licensed taxi brokerage, which included strictly regulated vehicle access, as they could only have licensed city taxis with only licensed taxi owners and drivers working on their app.
When Uber came along in about 2013, they were allowed to operate for over three years without obtaining a City brokerage licence and were allowed completely
unfettered access to vehicles permitted to work on their Uber X app Ñ a fundamental shift in traditional regulatory policy that has essentially deregulated and destroyed Toronto’s taxi industry. The resulting financial disruption proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that the City of Toronto disregarded their own fourth principle of the taxi review, passed by Council on October 2, 3, and 4, 2012, which read in part:
“That the taxicab economic viability and sustainability of the taxi industry be added as a fourth key principle of the taxicab industry review.”
The questions I am sure everyone in the taxi industry would like answered is why did the City of Toronto legislate and regulate one ride-sharing company under the then existing taxicab bylaw, including strictly regulated access to vehicles, while for three long years they turned a blind eye to the operations of Uber, allowing it to have any number of vehicles they wanted and in the end, enacted a bylaw that totally supports just about all of Uber’s demands for unfettered access to Toronto’s taxi market, which has destroyed the economic viability and sustainability of the taxi industry, therefore violating their own Council directive?
This City’s taxi industry deserves answers to these questions and we would all be very interested to know how the MLS, members of the Licensing and Standards Committee, the Mayor and Council explain their actions.
The situation in Mississauga is even more diabolical. Council amended the Public Vehicle Licensing Bylaw by incorporating the ‘Capture Option’, thus obliging Uber to use the services of licensed cabbies and cabs only, and, in the same breath, adopted an 18-month pilot project that has enabled Uber to operate in accordance with its own business plan. (Houdini himself would marvel at such sleight-of-hand.)
Adding further insult to injury, unanimous approval was given to issuing 38 additional taxi plates, even though a number of plates continue to sit on the shelf.
That this outrageous measure was not challenged by the two councillors who sit on the Public Vehicle Advisory Committee - which voted not to issue any new plates - speaks volumes about the ineffectiveness of committees in general. Members of Council do as they damn well please, regardless of both the consequences, and what their constituents have to say.
Not sure about you, Gerry, but I’ve lost total respect for the folks at City Hall. Their actions with respect to the taxi industry have been nothing short of unconscionable.
And they apparently act with virtual immunity. So much for justice.
Peter D. Pellier
To the editor,
Perhaps no other taxi industry on the planet has suffered as much economic loss as our colleagues in the Big Apple. For those who paid well over $1 million for the privilege of owning a taxi medallion, their losses in the wake of the Uber debacle have been staggering.
As for the market recovering any time soon, or, for that matter, at all, the probability is low indeed.
If any city has a fundamental responsibility to protect the financial interests of its cabbies, it is New York. After all, the auctioning of medallions has enriched that city’s coffers handsomely over the years. From all accounts, Uber has been allowed to operate at will in the continent’s biggest taxi market, leaving owner’s who paid top dollar mired in debt, and operators in general scrambling to make ends meet.
Yet another example of gross negligence on the part of governments.
Peter D. Pellier
To the editor,
(Editor’s note: The following letter is a press release issued by the iTaxiworkers Association.)
News of the passing away of Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell was received with great sadness by the drivers within Toronto’s taxicab industry. Many members of iTaxiworkers Association are Pam McConnell’s constituents in Ward 28.
“We’ll really miss her, she was very helpful and welcoming at her office, a true champion of the workers in the taxi industry” said Imran Chowdhury, a Ward 28 constituent and Director of the Board at iTaxiworkers. “She was active in the Ground Transportation review in 2016, she was a supporter of the Toronto Taxi Licence holders (TTLs) and shift drivers, a real fighter for the weak and vulnerable in Toronto” said Chowdhury.
Toronto’s taxi workers lost a social justice advocate whose work improved the lives of so many Torontonians because of her dedication to values that define who we are as Canadians. Pam McConnell’s legacy is that she helped shape Toronto through decades of public service, improving the quality of life of those she represented in her numerous public service initiatives, by speaking truth to power.
“Her door was always open to the hard working cab drivers in the City of Toronto. Today we lost our best friend at Toronto City Hall” said iTaxiworkers President Sajid Mughal. “Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell will be truly missed.”