Launched in 2009 in San Francisco, Uber has grown rapidly since 2012 and is now operating in more than 300 cities worldwide. In most markets, the company has faced legal challenges to its operation related to municipal taxi bylaws. Generally, municipalities regulate transportation services like taxis and limousines to protect consumers from unfair business practices and to enhance public safety.
Operating in a highly regulated industry with significant barriers to entry, taxi licence holders, brokerages and many drivers are strongly opposed to Uber being unregulated while they are regulated. They are also concerned about the impact of this new kind of transportation service on their earnings and their investment in vehicles and taxi licences ("plates"). More information about the City of London's taxi and limousine regulatory approach is available on the city web site. As set out in the taxi and limousine bylaw, the number of cab owner licences is limited to one for every 1,100 residents of the City of London (for example: 333 licences for a population of 366,151 (2011 Census)). The number of accessible cab owner licences is fixed at one for every 18 cab owner licences (e.g. 333 / 18 = 19 accessible cab owner licences).
In Canada, Uber is available in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, Quebec City and Halifax. Recently, Uber has started operating in Southwestern Ontario, including Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton.
Various jurisdictions have responded differently to the introduction of Uber to their markets. In 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission created the definition of a transportation network company and regulated this new kind of online-enabled transportation service. Since then, a number of other jurisdictions in the United States (click for map) have passed similar regulations for transportation network companies.
In Ontario, a class action lawsuit has been launched against Uber. Toronto and Edmonton have taken Uber to court, unsuccessfully arguing that Uber is an illegal taxi brokerage. In Ottawa, bylaw officers have laid dozens of fines against drivers who are using the service. In Vancouver, the service was available briefly before being shut down.
At this year's review of the taxi and limousine by-law, a staff person from Uber spoke to the Community and Protective Services Committee and many of the delegations from the public also focused on Uber. The staff report for that meeting and the minutes are available. At that meeting, the following motion, in part, was passed:
b) the matter of new technologies and approaches regarding vehicles for hire BE REFERRED to staff to review and report back at a future meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee on what is occurring in other jurisdictions, as well as at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), and what options might be available to the City of London; it being noted that the City’s primary concerns are health and safety, consumer protection and quality of life, as well as ensuring effective and efficient service delivery;
it being noted that the Community and Protective Services Committee heard the attached presentation from the Managing Director, Development and Compliance Services and Chief Building Official, with respect to this matter, and a communication from C. Schafer, Uber Public Policy Manager, Uber Canada, with respect to its ridesharing Canadian operations;
it being pointed out that at the public participation meeting associated with this matter, the individuals on the attached public participation meeting record made oral submissions with respect to this matter. (2015-C01)
If you believe the City of London should regulate Uber and other such transportation network companies, please add your name to this petition and share it on social media.