To the editor,
There are a few recent developments that are additional indicators of the struggles the Toronto taxi industry is facing. Toronto legal has yet to decide if they will consent to a class action certification for the $1.7 Billion law suit. The new council is made up mostly by the same old councillors who supported Mayor ‘Uber is here to stay’ Tory and foisted the Uber and Lyft bylaw on us. More and more plates are sitting and less and less drivers are available to drive. Incomes are at an all time low for both drivers and owners.
Despite this dispiriting trend, the Steering Committee of ATOOL (the driving force behind the lawsuit) is at a loss to explain the limited response to the membership drive. The devastating pattern is very clear but it seems a lot of people do not see it or don’t want to see it.
It is increasingly more difficult to make a living in the cab business and there seems to be no end in sight. Our business is closer to the end of the line than the beginning UNLESS everybody steps up to the plate and pays their fair share to protect what is left.
However, the most recent item I find alarming is that MLS is conducting a meeting on behalf of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). I have been a contributor to Taxi News for over 20 years and a member of the industry for five decades. Due to space limitation I will address this item only. I believe that we are witnessing a deliberate and well planned destruction of our business but this is not the first time I am writing about this topic. To me it is truly ominous and strange that MLS is conducting a meeting on BEHALF of the Toronto Transit Commission.
As the former Customer Service Manager of Co-op Cabs, I was present at the birth of the Wheelchair business contracted out to the taxi industry by the TTC some 20 years ago. I can state with certainty that the TTC never needed in the past nor needs today the help of the MLS in anything, especially awarding a contract or conducting a public meeting.
I am predicting that Uber will be given a WheelTrans contract. This meeting will only serve as an excuse that there was a “consultation with the industry”. The whole process will be the same smoke and mirrors and waste of time as was the Bylaw Review.
It is no secret that Uber already purchased some 50 wheelchair vans and to paraphrase the words of General Patton, no battle tank was ever manufactured for decoration. It is unlikely that Toronto brokerages will lose all TTC contracts but the writing is on the wall as to what the future will look like when Uber gets any part of the contract.
Losing even a small portion of the existing contract will be the official beginning of the end for Toronto’s taxi business. Please read last month’s column by my son David who made an elegant presentation as to the “need” for taxis and the reason the City wants to destroy our business. On a positive note, ATOOL will make its first public appearance and rest assured we will speak on behalf of the whole industry. At time of writing we did not get a reply to our query as to the format the meeting will follow on December 7 at the old York City Hall at Eglinton and Keele.
We are witnessing the step by step systematic reduction and destruction of our once thriving business. The City of Toronto is making a ton of money from Uber and Lyft, what do they need us for? This is our last chance TO SPEAK UP and DO SOMETHING.
My fellow taxi industry members, how can you sit by and not put up a fight to save your economic lives? Our organization - ATOOL is fighting on behalf of everybody BUT if the support is not coming, we will have no choice but to walk away. Please don’t ignore reality.
The City of Toronto and MLS has some big plans for the future of public transportation and they do NOT include taxis. Please join the fight to save your economic lives, send your membership contribution of $500 per plate to:
ALL TAXI OWNERS AND OPERATORS LTD. (ATOOL), 2238 Dundas St. West, #218, Toronto, Ontario, M6R 3A9
You can contact us at (647) 483-2538 or visit our website: www.taxiownersoperators.com
Our committee is working for free, our lawyer does not.
To the editor,
(Editor’s note: This is an open letter to Michael Foley, Manager of Mississauga’s Mobile Licensing Enforcement department.)
What follows are my comments on Mississauga’s TNC Pilot Review for the City’s perusal.
Governments are mandated to preserve and promote consumer health, safety and protection. In order for this to happen, the marketplace must be regulated. Which begs the question, why has deregulation become all the rage?
Quoting from an article by Tim Wu, that appeared in the November 17/18, 2018 edition of the New York Times International Weekly: “From a political perspective, we have recklessly chosen to tolerate global monopolies and oligarchies in finance, media, airlines and telecommunications, to say nothing of the growing size and power of the major technology platforms. In doing so, we have rejected the safeguards that were supposed to protect democracy from a dangerous marriage of private and public power.”
When the City of Mississauga opted to back Uber, an enormous price was exacted. Conferring upon Private Transportation Companies, principally Uber and Lyft, the right to self-regulate, placed the travelling public at risk, and, at the same time, imposed considerable financial hardship on taxi owners and drivers.
Adding insult to injury, the City saw fit to eliminate both training requirements and mandatory vehicle inspections for cabbies - simulating the days of the Wild West, where anything goes.
Currently, the Town of Oakville is seeking industry input for a measure aimed at eliminating the taxicab tariff. Given the fervent embrace of deregulation by City Hall, it would come as no surprise if Mississauga was contemplating a similar move.
What else is in the proverbial hopper? Elimination of rooflights? Abandoning strict age of vehicle limitations? Removal of a longstanding restriction governing the number of cabs?
To venture down this path would be an act of egregious irresponsibility, guaranteed to inflict considerable harm on both the people of Mississauga and members of the taxi industry.
Rather than transform the taxi industry into a carbon copy of Uber and Lyft, far better to reverse direction by imposing regulations on TNC’s, including, but not restricted to, a limitation on the number of vehicles that can affiliate with each company; municipal screening and training of TNC drivers; and annual mandatory vehicle inspections.
With respect to the City’s taxi industry, rooflights, meters, and a standard tariff must remain firmly in place, along with strict control over the number of licensed cabs. Also, bring back both the screening and training of drivers, as well as periodic vehicle inspections.
In conclusion, deregulation is a recipe for disaster, plain and simple. Not only does it deny the people of Mississauga protections they fully deserve, but also, it places the City’s cabbies in a precarious position.
Peter D. Pellier
To the editor,
I can certainly see a cashless society in the future. It is one of the reasons I have suggested Point of Sale (“POS”) terminals be made mandatory in all Toronto taxicabs.
The consumer should be afforded every possible way to pay for our service and it has always been strange to me that Toronto has a section in the bylaw on the operation of the POS terminal, but has never mandated its use.
It is well overdue for our industry to catch up to available technology in the area of consumer payment for our services.
Gerald H. Manley