Who doesn’t like a disruptive technology? From my daily Netflix fix to my late arrival to iTunes, these innovations are great for consumers. Some observers have suggested that these service models using technology for us to buy goods and services will grow and revolutionize our business practices – potentially connecting vendors and customers for many needs in our lives.
So why are local and national governments around the world balking at the UBER model for the delivery of taxi services? For UBER, many jurisdictions, including Calgary, have insisted on enforcing local By-Laws before accepting this service into our community. These By-Laws are for the same basic public safety terms that apply to all current licensed operators. They require that:
1. The drivers pass a police check.
2. The vehicles pass a safety check.
3. There is a commercial insurance policy in place (which can be five times the cost of the regular private owner policy).
Why not let the public assume the risks above? Simply stated, the public does not know about the risks nor has public input indicated they are prepared to assume the risks. Even if some were prepared to consider these risks, many other drivers and pedestrians may not reasonably be prepared to do so. Furthermore, visitors to Calgary using uninsured taxi services may unknowingly be assuming the significant risk of an uninsured injury.
Council has been challenged on protecting local industry and entrenched interests. Those interests have told us that, with a level playing field, where all players must invest in the same safety protections, they would welcome the opportunity to compete.
Toronto currently has this matter before the Courts and the City is following the case closely.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.