Hamilton is seeking a new licensing law that would see Uber and Taxi companies on a level playing field, while the city has issued a ban on Uber drivers operating without commercial auto insurance. However, experts close to the situation say the proposed law would still not make taxis and Uber equal, and Hamilton could still be a peer-2-peer ride service “Wild West”.
Jagtar Singh Chahal, CEO of Hamilton Cab said that taxi drivers can pay as much as $10,000 per month for auto insurance, something Uber drivers do not have to do. He also pointed out that the annual license fee is much higher than any fees being proposed for Uber drivers.
Uber as a company will pay $50,000 per year to operate in Hamilton, if the city votes to adopt the service, while taxi companies much pay much more.
Ken Leendertse is among the voices pushing for Uber to be legally adopted in the city, but he readily admits that a new law may not necessarily end the Uber vs. taxi debate.
‘We still could have the wild west’
“We’re hoping to get something that works for the industry and makes it as close as possible, but we are talking apples and oranges.”
Uber could still ignore the regulations and operate in the city regardless argues Leenderste, although the company has pulled out of cities like Calgary in similar circumstances. Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla has pushed for a court injunctions against illegal Uber drivers operating without required commercial auto insurance.
Echoing Leendertse, Merulla confesses that imposing those injunctions is not an easy task for authorities.
“None of this is worth the paper it’s written on unless we can enforce them, and we can’t,” he said.
“The alternative is to shove it underground where it’s going to continue regardless,” he said. “That’s been proven internationally.”