Niagara police board chair Bob Gale said the new regulations that legalize Uber in the city were created to create an even playing field for taxi drivers and those of ride-sharing companies. He said the law bases on the fact that drivers will be safe and insured:
“We have provided the protection the consumer needs, the industry needs, and have reached a ‘made in Niagara’ solution with our new bylaw,” he said.
Even the cab industry is relatively happy with regulations, saying that the police have created a system that allows Uber to enter the market while keeping the taxi industry competitive. Niagara’s police board is responsible for bylaws that regulate business operators and drivers of various vehicles-for-hire, such as cabs, tow trucks, limousines, sightseeing and shuttle vehicles, as well as horse-drawn buggies.
Uber has been operating in the region since November, where it has so far been unregulated and illegal. The company also welcomes Gale’s decision, but said that it will review the regulations before making a lasting decision on whether it will work with the laws or leave the area.
The new ride-hailing bylaw, approved by the Niagara police services board Thursday, refers to companies such as Uber as transportation network companies, or TNCs. It comes into effect on July 1.
Among the new laws:
• All TNC drivers and vehicles have provincially approved insurance
• TNC drivers must have background checks and vehicle safety requirements identical to those applied to taxi drivers and taxi cabs
• There will be no quotas on TNC drivers or vehicles.
• The minimum fare is restricted to $3.75 per trip for TNC arranged rides.
• TNC vehicles required to have identification as a TNC vehicle
• TNCs to be subject to extensive record maintenance and production requirements
• Licensing fees to be charged to TNCs to include a flat fee, and a per trip charge, all with a view to making the administration and enforcement of the TNC provisions cost recovery
In addition, changes approved respecting the existing taxi industry, include:
• Maintenance of taxi cab quotas, with the proviso that the issue of quotas is to be reviewed in one year
Taxi licences, although issued on a per area municipality basis, may be utilized regionwide to be reviewed in one-year
• Identical TNC fare provisions referenced above in respect of taxi rides dispatched in a manner similar to a TNC