A think tank set up in Montreal to tackle the arrival of Uber in the city has pointed to the Australian market as one that Canada can use as an example for integrating the ride-sharing company smoothly. The advice comes as many Canadian municipalities remain locked in back and forth fights with Uber and local taxi unions, with the UberX service continuing to operate unregulated and illegally.
Research firm, Montreal Economic Institute, released a study that finds recent changes in the way Australia regulates Uber and manages the existing taxi industry alongside it could be an example for Canada to follow.
In Australia, recent legislative changes mean taxi drivers are now compensated for the loss of earnings incurred by the arrival of ride-sharing companies, such as Uber. The compensations is taken from a temporary $1 per ride tax that passengers must pay whether riding a traditional taxi or taking an UberX vehicle.
“Today, everyone except for the most determined opponents realizes that this technological innovation is here to stay. Now it’s time to find solutions,” said Youcef Msaid, co-author of the study and an associate researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.
“The goal is both to allow ride-sharing applications to develop and to give taxi drivers the means to adjust and improve the service they offer. The consumer will be the biggest winner.”
While governments have wrestled with Uber, most authorities around the country recognize that ultimately the company has huge economical benefits, if it can be regulated and decides to play ball. However, taxi drivers have been ferocious enemies of the UberX service, protesting against what they see as a company operating illegally and providing unfair competition.
Recent decisions have eased Uber’s path in Canada, such as Edmonton voting to legalize the company, Toronto granting a taxi certificate, and Ontario allowing Aviva Canada to set up a ride-sharing specific insurance policy. However, taxi unions remain unimpressed until they can see that their interests are being served too, and even with a legalized Uber, trouble is likely to follow.
Perhaps looking to other cities and countries such as Australia and London, where Uber has also been adopted relatively smoothly, can pave the way for Canada to find a lasting solution to the ridesharing conundrum.