Taxi drivers in Ottawa are pleading with consumers to avoid using Uber in favor of traditional city cabs, making the plea before the city council completes a report that is expected to show how Ottawa can accommodate Uber and create a way for the company to compete with taxi providers on an even footing.
The problem seems to be that taxi drivers are unlikely to accept any terms in which Uber would become a competitor and unions are still angered by Uber’s current status as an unregulated company providing unfair competition.
The city report will say whether Ottawa will amend its bylaws to include Uber and other ride-sharing companies and is expected to be published on March 31. Coventry Connections, the dispatch company that represents taxi drivers in Ottawa has long talked about safety concerns surrounding Uber, while fellow dispatcher Unifor Local 1688 says Uber has taken away 40 per cent of traditional taxi business.
The counter argument is that the taxi unions have had it too good for too long and have virtually monopolize the market. Coventry Connections president and CEO Hanif Patni thinks differently, and says Ottawans should consider their community the next time they choose between Uber and a taxi.
“(Uber is) sucking money out of our country without making a contribution,” he said.
“The other thing is it’s leaving a very dangerous system of transporting people without safety and it’s exploiting people to say you can do some part-time work, which is terrible, because it’s taking away work from legitimate full-time professional drivers.”
Unifor Local 1688 president Amrik Singh echoed Patni, saying the taxi drivers serve the community and pay taxes in the city:
Local politicians “have to choose between 2,500 families who live in Ottawa, pay taxes in Ottawa, send their children to school in Ottawa, versus the financial interests of a multinational, multibillion-dollar company,” said Unifor Local 1688 president Amrik Singh.
“I think they should choose 2,500 families when they decide on their review and make the final decision,” Singh said.