At Thursday’s Ottawa special committee meeting to debate the cities decision to amend bylaws and adopt Uber and other ride-sharing companies, the issue of training was raised.
When the amended bylaw was announced last week, the council announced that taxi drivers would no longer have to undergo training, in a bid to make the career more accessible. Coun. Diane Deans said that the city was “taking the handcuffs” off the taxi industry, but something interesting has happened instead.
The taxi industry has said that it wants to keep the mandatory training that all drivers must complete, but in a twist wants Uber drivers to also be obliged to take the training. In a list of nine demands issued to the city in a bid to bridge the gap between Uber and taxis, the industry has called Uber out and said the company should be more like the taxi industry and not the other way around.
Uber Canada has brushed aside the calls for driver training within Ottawa by saying that its rating system and real-time feedback is enough. The company allows passengers and drivers to rate each other and the company says the system works, citing consumers support in the city as proof.
Uber’s surge pricing has also been criticized as the company hikes prices at times when demand is higher, such as holiday periods. Taxi drivers argue this is unfair as they are limited by a capped meter price, but an Uber Canada spokesman said the company uses an algorithm to determine prices, and it is not up to drivers.
The company said it would not share its algorithms as they are developed by the company and are proprietary. The company argued that even its surge prices are more affordable than normal taxis and that consumers always know about the surge before entering into the ride.