Hamilton is no longer charging Uber drivers and are not tracking down those who decide to work for the all-conquering ride-sharing company. It is an interesting change of position from the city after it originally began charging Uber drivers through two aggressive waves. The goal is to find regulations to adopt the company legally, but in the meantime the city’s authorities are against the company operating rouge as an unregulated service.
Licensing departments in Hamilton are in the process of compiling a new bylaw that will encompass Uber into the city’s licensing regulations. Like other similar legislations, the city will hope to draft a bylaw that sees Uber operate alongside the taxi industry. The balance will be between making Uber’s rule stricter and freeing up taxi driver regulations to create an even playing field.
It is a balancing act that other Canadian municipalities have attempted to mixed results.
“We’re working with Uber to find some sort of resolution,” said Ken Leendertse, the city’s director of licensing. “As we’re doing that, it’s kind of in limbo.”
Uber has been operating rouge in Hamilton since the summer of 2015. The city has pursued drivers in sporadic spurts. During its sprees the city has charged 32 people for driving without a license and sufficient auto insurance. The fine for such offences has been $305. However, Leendertse points out that these charges are actually still before the courts.
Like in other Canadian municipalities, Uber says it will cover the costs of drivers who are brought before courts in the country. While Hamilton has made an about turn that may infuriate taxi drivers, it is actually logical move to stop trying to actively find Uber drivers.
The only way to find Uber drivers was to hail them on the app, because the company does not carry any liveries. Once one driver was caught, the company would block the enforcer account that caught them. The process to try and catch an Uber driver to just mete out a $305 fine was too costly and time consuming.
“The challenges in the enforcement avenue are difficult,” Leendertse told city council’s general issues committee back in April. “It becomes a very difficult process and a very limiting process.”