Edmonton became the first Canadian municipality to adopt Uber and other ride-sharing firms when it introduced a vehicle for hire bylaw in January. The new regulations came into effect on March 1, but since then numerous drivers have been found to be flaunting the laws.
With municipalities around Canada introduction legislation for ride-sharing companies, the taxi industry has remained a staunch critic of such expansion. Companies argue that Uber and its drivers had no problem operating illegally and unregulated, so why would they comply with laws that make them pay for a license and insurance.
It was argued by taxi companies that Uber drivers would simply continue as they had been. A new report shows that to date, 159 tickets have been issued to Uber drivers “for a variety of offences under the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw, Traffic Safety Act and other bylaw and provincial offences,” city spokeswoman Alison Burns said.
One key fact is different this time. While operating unregulated, Uber would support its drivers when they were ticketed and pay fines and legal fees. It is unclear whether that is still happening, but it seems likely the company will not offer such support considering it agreed with Edmonton’s bylaw.
Agreed, is a loose term. The company complied with the regulations to continue operating in the city, with a new legal capacity. However, since the bylaw introduction in March, Uber has voiced its displeasure at some of the aspects of the bylaw. The company continued that stance this week, with spokesman Jean-Christophe de La Rue saying:
“We believe that any regulations making it more difficult to offer safe and reliable rides … do not support the public interest and should be re-examined,” de Le Rue wrote in an email response to questions about what the company does to assist drivers facing tickets for infractions.
The bylaw states that drivers with a vehicle-for-hire license must get commercial auto insurance and a registration for the car. Authorities are also permitted to conduct random on the spot checks to make sure drivers are adhering to the laws.
“It is well known that Uber supports its driver-partners. Commercial plates have nothing to do with roadworthiness and ride-sharing involves personal, not commercial, vehicles so we are reviewing this matter further to determine the best path forward,” de La Rue said.