While Uber is becoming adopted in more municipalities, tensions continue to rise. The traditional taxi industry is not going away, and in some regions is taking local governments to the courts. In London, cabbies are trying something else.
Increasingly, taxi drivers in the Ontario city are refusing to comply with various set regulations. This is basically challenging authorities to fine them. However, it is being argued that they are merely doing what Uber drivers have been doing for two years, operating without regulations.
It could be the most effective civil disobedience act so far in the Uber vs. taxi fight. 450 taxis and limousines in London have refused to pay the $750 renewal fee that is required for them to operate in the city during 2017. This is effectively a strike that tells the city to either allow them to operate unregulated or fine them.
The missed renewal fees total $340,000, so it also hurts the city financially. Representatives argue they will become bandit cabs, just like Uber’s service. The city is faced with leaving consumers without a cab network that numbers in the hundreds.
“If the city wants to charge us (our drivers), we’re very easy to find,” said Roger Caranci, a former longtime city councillor who’s now spokesperson for the London Taxi Association.
“There have been (only) 55 charges against thousands upon thousands of rides that Uber drivers have given in this city. That is totally unfair.”
“I think it’s a mistake to respond to one market participant (Uber) not following the bylaw by more market participants not following the bylaw,” Coun. Jesse Helmer, a leader for regulation and adoption of Uber, said. “I think they’re giving up a lot of goodwill in the community.
“People are frustrated and I get that (but) I think it’s a mistake.”