September 2018

Industry members must get actively involved in City’s taxi review process

To the editor,

I find it more than coincidental that City of Toronto announced its plans for the industry review consultation shortly after the Quebec government announced compensation for taxi plate owners who have suffered financial loses as a result of the government’s mishandling of the TNC file. The powers that be in Toronto are not dummies, and this process may be a stopgap measure to deflect financial responsibility down the line to the next Council.

It is imperative that everybody in the industry get proactive in presenting to the review panel an avalanche of letters and presentations regarding the devastating impact that the ride hailing brokers and their drivers have had on our industry, customer service and traffic congestion. Every presentation should be cc’d to all the news and press outlets.

As an extra point, I would like to add that it is often useful in negotiations, rather than just complaining, to present alternative scenarios. This puts the other party in the position of having to actually consider solutions (which, incidentally, puts them in the position of admitting that there is a problem, and that, not incidentally, the problem is of their making).

Politically speaking, the ride hailing broker business model is the genie that is out of the bottle. So we have to come up with a solution that enables all parties to co-exist while restoring some semblance of fiscal reality to the taxi industry. The City won’t, cannot afford to, pay 5000-plus plate owners $47,000 each ($235-million), as done by the PQ government.

A blue sky solution:

All for-hire-vehicles must carry a taxi plate.

Since the ride hail vehicles are only allowed on the road for four hours per day by the insurance company, allow the ride hail companies to rent/buy taxi plates and have the City convert them to ride hail plates at a 6:1 ratio.

The price would be the latest market value of registered transfers or leases before the ride hailing companies came to town, or it could be just the market rate as it evolves.

All for-hire-vehicles would pay the going rate for renewals, etc., and the ride hailing companies would pay 1/6th of these prices for each vehicle.

All for-hire-vehicles would pay the City (as in New York) 25 cents per fare.

Sure, this is dreaming, but alternative solutions can show that the taxi industry is interested in adjusting to a changing market reality, and has serious proposals that will benefit all concerned, including the City, which is desperately in need of extra income.

There is an alternative scenario: if, as a result of these consultations, the City realizes that it is over its head in terms of managing the vehicle-for-hire portfolio, it may decide that uploading the job to a GTHA taxi authority run by Metrolinx is the easy way out of an expensive dilemma.

The worst thing that the industry could do here is ignore Tracey Cook’s taxi review, as it would give the politicians and the bureaucracy an easy out, saying that there was little interest from the industry in change.  

Best regards
Mark Sexsmith

Is taxi industry on verge of finally securing justice?

To the editor,

Since bullying its way into the taxi market, Uber has steadfastly proclaimed it is not a taxi company, but rather a ‘ridesharing platform’. Up until now, this marketing propaganda has worked, seeing as, one by one, municipalities around the world have accepted this balderdash, and, in the process, granted Uber special status. Finally, a politician, in the person of Mayor Bill de Blasio, has exposed the charlatan for what it is. Why it took so long remains a mystery.

At long last an opportunity presents itself via the New York court system to confirm, once and for all, that the emperor has no clothes; that, in fact, Uber is a taxi company. All being well, this is exactly what the courts determine, forcing Uber to abandon the charade that, somehow, it is a horse of a different colour.

Should this come to pass, I cannot see Uber remaining in the New York City market, or, for that matter, in any market where the company is obliged to cap the number of affiliated vehicles, and, at the same time,

treat their drivers as dependent contractors, entitled to a minimum wage and benefits.

Uber’s business plan was a proverbial house of cards from the get go. If justice prevails in New York, that house of cards will tumble swiftly.

All of which raises an even more pertinent question. Assuming the courts back the City of New York, will our municipal regulators be obligated to follow in New York’s footsteps? For certain, they will not want to relinquish the revenue stream Uber currently provides. Bear in mind, both Mayor John Tory and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie are wedded to Uber, and the money that flows from trip fees.

(It goes without saying, should the provincial government adopt legislation that designates PTC’s as taxi companies, it won’t matter what Mayors Tory and Crombie think.)

Justice can be exceedingly elusive. (Doubting Thomases need only ask Stephen Truscott, for whom it took nearly 50 years to clear his name.) Are we on the verge of securing the justice that is rightfully ours?

Peter D. Pellier


2018 Taxi News

Industry members must get actively involved in City’s taxi review process

Is taxi industry on verge of finally securing justice?