One of the more controversial issues that we have been dealing with at city hall is how to best adopt new technologies in the field of transportation, and I am particularly referring the entrance of Uber to the Calgary market.
Uber provides many benefits including consumer choice, employment and simplicity that utilize the latest technology. Many citizens have tried Uber in other locations and would like to have those options here in Calgary. Like many Calgarians, I do not support the status quo in terms of our current framework for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). We need to allow for more choice for consumers and competition amongst TNCs. That is why I supported the development a new framework for TNCs.
This new framework will allow TNCs like Uber to operate legally in Calgary. The framework will provide transportation options for Calgarians through a hybrid open/controlled entry system that levels the playing field for TNCs and the taxi and limousine industry. This framework has also been endorsed by industry stakeholders and was unanimously supported by the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee.
Once the new bylaw is developed, it will allow for companies like Uber to operate if drivers have appropriate vehicle insurance as required by the Province of Alberta and if they meet specified training, security and licensing requirements. The new bylaw will also require drivers to be licensed, have police background checks, undergo vehicle safety inspections and only provide services through the use of a Smartphone application.
City Council has asked for amendments to the Livery Transport Bylaw to be developed accordingly and report back to Council by February 22, 2016. This time-frame allows for Administration to work through the details of the bylaw with stakeholders including Uber.
Until this new bylaw is approved the current Livery Transport Bylaw remains in effect and the operation of private for-hire vehicles remains a breach of the current bylaw. Furthermore, the Government of Alberta has issued an advisory notice on ride sharing services and the insurance risk they currently pose to themselves and the public. Alberta's Superintendent of Insurance has issued an advisory notice regarding private vehicle for hire services and stated that “Drivers using Uber ride sharing services may believe that Uber’s supplemental insurance provides the necessary coverage. This is currently not the case in Alberta.” It is my understanding that the Government of Alberta is working with the insurance industry on options to address insurance concerns.
While it is important that we have more choice and competition amongst TNCs, it is also important that the new bylaws are developed correctly so that they provide adequate safety and security for both drivers and passengers of TNCs.