In a possible sign of things to come, an Ottawa based taxi dispatch company has laid off numerous staff and says that ride-sharing company Uber is to blame. Coventry Connections says it is letting go 60 workers from its Ottawa based call center and says the imminent legalization of Uber in the city is to blame for the situation.
However, the company is outsourcing call center work to the Philippines, which will be booked over the phone, confirmed CEO Hanif Patni with CBC News.
“Our local call takers were very important to us. But we cannot continue to operate like this anymore. The world has changed,” Patni said.
“The decisions that have been made by the bureaucrats have left us with less revenue and more costs. And we’ve got to adapt.”
While Coventry Connections says Uber is to blame, it is unclear if the company’s decision to outsource call center positions was made before Uber was legalized in Ottawa. The US based ride-sharing company and others like it were legalized in a city vote in April. A new set of bylaw regulations adopting Uber alongside taxi companies will be introduced in the fall.
In Ottawa, city council also adopted a “lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings,” the city said.
Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app;
Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee;
Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96);
Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0);
Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles;
Increasing maximum vehicle age from eight to 10 years;
Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College;
Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept “street hails,” together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes’
Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9 million annually; and
Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app.