Uber’s position in Calgary is in real doubt after the city voted in favor of a bylaw that the company said would result in it pulling out of the local market. The city council agreed that the bylaw should be implemented, and while Uber says the bylaw is unworkable, the city says the new law allows Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber to operate in the city.
At the moment it is unclear if the city would not move its position or whether Uber would not yield to certain regulatory demands, but the latter seems more likely. Before Monday’s vote, Uber’s Alberta general manager, Ramit Kar said:
“The bylaw is not workable as it sits and we would not be able to operate under this if they pass it,” said Ramit Kar. “The bylaw is trying to turn ride-sharing into another taxi company.”
Kar said the bylaw is too strict, citing vehicle inspection proposals that are more stringent than those for selling a used car and an unworkable fee structure as reasons why Uber could not work under the bylaw. He said the company agrees with the principals of regulation, but not the way Calgary is going about implementing the changes.
“We’re all for paying fees to the city, we’re for background checks, we’re for vehicle inspections — the issue here is the how, it’s not the what,” Kar said.
“Were in agreement on these principles, but let’s not do the most onerous option or the one that’s filled with red tape.”
The general manager pointed to Edmonton as an example of a city that truly worked with Uber to create a set of regulations and laws that allowed the city to be made legal in the city. However, the Calgary City Council ignored Uber’s concerns and voted 14-1 in favor of implementing the bylaw, with Kar adding on Tuesday that the company will indeed need to pull out of the market.
Whether that will happen is unclear, with some insiders suggesting Uber is willing to back to the table with the council to negotiate regulations to remain in the city.