The city of Waterloo is in the midst of deciding whether to adopt regulations that would accommodate Uber and other ride-sharing companies. However, as councilors deliberate the proposed changes, politicians and local taxi representatives remain cautious of Uber’s intentions and admit trust is an issue with the US company.
Under the proposed change to the vehicle-for-hire bylaw, there will be 28 regulations, each of which will be decided upon by the local government. The argument for and against Uber are similar to what has been seen around Canada. Proponents of the company say it adds consumer choice and helps boost the local economy, while opponents say the company provides unfair competition and has been operating illegally.
The council decided to redraw the proposed regulations and send them back until August, when new guidelines will be added for another attempt at approval. During the deliberations, the council heard from both sides of the ride-sharing fence, cabbies and Uber drivers/representatives.
Uber Canada spokesperson Chris Schafer was grilled for nearly an hour and councilors told him that trust remained a problem with the company. In other words, politicians do not entirely believe the company would adhere to regulations should they be put in place. Schafer honestly said that the company supported many of the proposed regulations but not all of them.
Would that mean the company would ignore the regulations it did not agree with? It is a possible scenario that worries politicians, but in other Canadian municipalities the company has left the market when it disagrees with implemented changes.
Amendments made to the bylaw on Tuesday include:
• Extending the license limit review period from 2018 to 2019 after several taxi drivers requested more time to adjust to changes
• Maintain the taxi license ratio at one license issued for every 1,650 people. Auxiliary taxis like Uber will not have license limits
• Raise the $50 flat accessibility fee to $100. This fee would be required when accessible vehicles cannot be provided and will be pooled into a possible fund for accessibility programs.