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Taxilogoweb2014

November 2017

L&S directs MLS staff to provide update on progress of taxi file

by Mike Beggs

It appears even Toronto councillors are getting tired of Municipal Licensing and Standards’ tardiness in responding to requests.

On October 20, the City’s Licensing and Standards Committee passed a motion from Ward 39 Councillor Jim Karygiannis requesting that MLS executive director Tracey Cook report back to the committee in the second quarter of 2018 on the consideration of mandating security cameras in all Private Transportation Company (PTC) vehicles, and provide an update on the status of all other outstanding directives.

MLS staff’s one-year Review of the new Vehicle-For-Hire bylaw, licensing Uber X under the separate PTC category, is already three months overdue. And in a mid-October article in the Toronto Star, Cook admitted that the report is still a long way off, with other issues having taken precedence.

“It has been over a year since the bylaw for PTC vehicles was enacted, and it is time to have it reviewed,” Karygiannis said in a letter.

“And in the past year, there have been a few incidents of sexual harassment in PTC vehicles, and it is time we look at this more closely.”

A day or two after the L&S motion came the glaring headline that an Uber driver in Courtice faces charges of sexual assault on a female customer. According to Durham Region Police, the incident occurred after a 24-year-old woman received an Uber ride home from a Whitby restaurant, at which she point she alleges he touched her inappropriately. Rahmanuddin Safi, 30, of Whitby has been charged with sexual assault.

While this incident seems to reinforce the need to readdress this safety issue ASAP, long-time owner/operator Gerry Manley is among those who doubts the camera debate will be resumed any time soon.

“That’s kind of the norm at committee,” he says, “just keep asking for more useless reports on something that should be a slam-dunk.”

Lucky 7 Taxi owner Lawrence Eisenberg laughed at this news.

“That’s a good chuckle,” he says. “What have they done with Uber at all?

“They’ve taken away everything else – driver training, inspections -- the whole thing is a joke. Until somebody gets hurt or killed, they’re not going to do anything. Where cabs were safer, we’re going back the other way.”

Uber management asserts that it’s pre-booking process, driver screening, and cashless transactions serve as effective crime deterrents; and they say the $1,200-plus price tag for cameras would make it cost-prohibitive for their primarily part-time drivers to be on the road.

“(Installing cameras) is okay for the taxi business, but not for them,” Eisenberg adds. “(The cameras) helped the taxi industry, but if they have to put any money in this business, they’re going to get out of it. There’s no safety.”

Peter’s Taxi owner Peter Mandronis maintains that all Uber cars should be mandated to have the identical security cameras as taxis -- with the images downloadable by Toronto Police forensics department. He put the first camera in a Toronto cab on March 18, 2001, and says their contribution to cab safety has been “excellent”.

“It has been amazing,” he says. “They protect the driver. They protect the customer.”

Despite this safety record, cities across the GTA have opted to make cameras optional in Uber X cars.

And, Mandronis is among many industry leaders who allege their Council has compromised public safety (one of its primary mandates) in acquiescing to Uber’s huge popularity, and powerful lobbying – and in order to collect its 30 cents revenue off of every Uber X run.

“The City is neglecting us, and is dropping the ball on safety – (at least) until something happens, and somebody sues the city. That’s going to happen,” he suggests.

“Also, I think Uber drivers should have to present their car insurance and police clearance in person at the MLS, the same way that taxi drivers do.”

Mark Sexsmith, accounts manager for All-Star Taxi, in Mississauga agrees that all cars should be equipped with cameras. He notes his City is proposing to drop these measures, as it rewrites its bylaw to encompass Uber, and other TNC’s.

“I think a camera in a car is such a revolution in driver safety,” he says. “It’s a rare thing now when a driver gets assaulted.”

“The cameras are there for everybody’s protection, and they should stay there.”

More than one Toronto taxi industry leader has alleged that Uber’s virtual self-regulation under the new Vehicle-For-Hire bylaw has created a “false sense of security” among Torontonians – and that the City has taken its word that all Uber X drivers have the proper stickers, insurance and background checks.

In the case of sexual charges against its drivers, Uber’s standard policy has been, “to suspend the driver from the platform pending the result of the investigation, and to offer helpful information to the police.”

A 25-year Beck Taxi driver named Abdi repeats the much-circulated rumour that there have been many cases of sexual assault in Uber cars that never make the news, in Toronto and around the world.

He says cameras are good for both customer and driver safety, but observes, “They may never (mandate cameras into Uber cars). They should have.”

While she hadn’t previously considered this safety issue, an occasional Uber user named Amanda acknowledges mandatory cameras makes sense, in principle.

“Yes, I think so,” she reasons. “There’s a lot of potential for not so good things happening, especially at night.

“It’s safer. You can’t really tell just by looking at the driver, if they have nefarious intentions.”

But she suggests another alternative -- giving Uber riders the option of ordering a car with a camera or not, via the app.

A Journalism student named Risa finds today’s life is so fast-paced that, “You don’t think a lot about what could happen.

“It’s so much cheaper, and everybody uses it,” she says. “There are so many benefits to Uber.”

Having led the push for cameras in all Toronto cabs, Manley has branded it, “highly irresponsible for cities to waive this mandate for Uber, when consumer and worker safety is a cornerstone of all municipal laws.” L&S directs MLS staff to provide update on progress of taxi file

by Mike Beggs

It appears even Toronto councillors are getting tired of Municipal Licensing and Standards’ tardiness in responding to requests.

On October 20, the City’s Licensing and Standards Committee passed a motion from Ward 39 Councillor Jim Karygiannis requesting that MLS executive director Tracey Cook report back to the committee in the second quarter of 2018 on the consideration of mandating security cameras in all Private Transportation Company (PTC) vehicles, and provide an update on the status of all other outstanding directives.

MLS staff’s one-year Review of the new Vehicle-For-Hire bylaw, licensing Uber X under the separate PTC category, is already three months overdue. And in a mid-October article in the Toronto Star, Cook admitted that the report is still a long way off, with other issues having taken precedence.

“It has been over a year since the bylaw for PTC vehicles was enacted, and it is time to have it reviewed,” Karygiannis said in a letter.

“And in the past year, there have been a few incidents of sexual harassment in PTC vehicles, and it is time we look at this more closely.”

A day or two after the L&S motion came the glaring headline that an Uber driver in Courtice faces charges of sexual assault on a female customer. According to Durham Region Police, the incident occurred after a 24-year-old woman received an Uber ride home from a Whitby restaurant, at which she point she alleges he touched her inappropriately. Rahmanuddin Safi, 30, of Whitby has been charged with sexual assault.

While this incident seems to reinforce the need to readdress this safety issue ASAP, long-time owner/operator Gerry Manley is among those who doubts the camera debate will be resumed any time soon.

“That’s kind of the norm at committee,” he says, “just keep asking for more useless reports on something that should be a slam-dunk.”

Lucky 7 Taxi owner Lawrence Eisenberg laughed at this news.

“That’s a good chuckle,” he says. “What have they done with Uber at all?

“They’ve taken away everything else – driver training, inspections -- the whole thing is a joke. Until somebody gets hurt or killed, they’re not going to do anything. Where cabs were safer, we’re going back the other way.”

Uber management asserts that it’s pre-booking process, driver screening, and cashless transactions serve as effective crime deterrents; and they say the $1,200-plus price tag for cameras would make it cost-prohibitive for their primarily part-time drivers to be on the road.

“(Installing cameras) is okay for the taxi business, but not for them,” Eisenberg adds. “(The cameras) helped the taxi industry, but if they have to put any money in this business, they’re going to get out of it. There’s no safety.”

Peter’s Taxi owner Peter Mandronis maintains that all Uber cars should be mandated to have the identical security cameras as taxis -- with the images downloadable by Toronto Police forensics department. He put the first camera in a Toronto cab on March 18, 2001, and says their contribution to cab safety has been “excellent”.

“It has been amazing,” he says. “They protect the driver. They protect the customer.”

Despite this safety record, cities across the GTA have opted to make cameras optional in Uber X cars.

And, Mandronis is among many industry leaders who allege their Council has compromised public safety (one of its primary mandates) in acquiescing to Uber’s huge popularity, and powerful lobbying – and in order to collect its 30 cents revenue off of every Uber X run.

“The City is neglecting us, and is dropping the ball on safety – (at least) until something happens, and somebody sues the city. That’s going to happen,” he suggests.

“Also, I think Uber drivers should have to present their car insurance and police clearance in person at the MLS, the same way that taxi drivers do.”

Mark Sexsmith, accounts manager for All-Star Taxi, in Mississauga agrees that all cars should be equipped with cameras. He notes his City is proposing to drop these measures, as it rewrites its bylaw to encompass Uber, and other TNC’s.

“I think a camera in a car is such a revolution in driver safety,” he says. “It’s a rare thing now when a driver gets assaulted.”

“The cameras are there for everybody’s protection, and they should stay there.”

More than one Toronto taxi industry leader has alleged that Uber’s virtual self-regulation under the new Vehicle-For-Hire bylaw has created a “false sense of security” among Torontonians – and that the City has taken its word that all Uber X drivers have the proper stickers, insurance and background checks.

In the case of sexual charges against its drivers, Uber’s standard policy has been, “to suspend the driver from the platform pending the result of the investigation, and to offer helpful information to the police.”

A 25-year Beck Taxi driver named Abdi repeats the much-circulated rumour that there have been many cases of sexual assault in Uber cars that never make the news, in Toronto and around the world.

He says cameras are good for both customer and driver safety, but observes, “They may never (mandate cameras into Uber cars). They should have.”

While she hadn’t previously considered this safety issue, an occasional Uber user named Amanda acknowledges mandatory cameras makes sense, in principle.

“Yes, I think so,” she reasons. “There’s a lot of potential for not so good things happening, especially at night.

“It’s safer. You can’t really tell just by looking at the driver, if they have nefarious intentions.”

But she suggests another alternative -- giving Uber riders the option of ordering a car with a camera or not, via the app.

A Journalism student named Risa finds today’s life is so fast-paced that, “You don’t think a lot about what could happen.

“It’s so much cheaper, and everybody uses it,” she says. “There are so many benefits to Uber.”

Having led the push for cameras in all Toronto cabs, Manley has branded it, “highly irresponsible for cities to waive this mandate for Uber, when consumer and worker safety is a cornerstone of all municipal laws.”

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