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Back  |  February 17, 2016  | 


I have reviewed feedback from Ward 1 constituents who have contacted my office in support of Uber operating in Calgary. In response, I am pleased to report that The City of Calgary is working to propose new changes to the Livery Transport Bylaw that will create the opportunity for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber to legally operate in Calgary.

I would also like to address Uber's publicly stated concerns with The City's proposed amendments with a few facts. In December, The City and Uber issued a joint agreement stating that they would work together to develop solutions for new transportation options that are safe and reliable for Calgarians. However, on February 8th, Uber told Calgarians that the City's proposed bylaws are unworkable.

Fact and fiction

Uber has stated that the fee structure is prohibitive.

The proposed annual licensing fee of $220 per driver is a reasonable cost to help with the operational cost of enforcement. This fee ensures Calgarian tax payers are not paying the costs of the administrative fees required to process licences. Calgarians should not be expected to subsidize profitable private businesses. TNCs have the opportunity to subsidize these fees or pay for them outright to support their drivers. The City proposes a vehicle safety inspection fee, which ranges from $140 - $179. This inspection fee is necessary to ensure vehicles meet the proper safety standards. Other fees include a Calgary Police Services (CPS) criminal history check ($30) and a vulnerable sector check ($25 only if finger prints are required).

Uber is opposed to the comprehensive Calgary Police Service (CPS) criminal history check and would like to perform its own background checks through a third-party company. Uber insists that the 8-day turnaround required for a CPS check is unreasonable.

CPS checks are the most comprehensive available and look into pardons for previous sexual offences as well as national police information. Currently, Uber uses a private third-party check, which has limited access to many criminal history databases. Note that Calgary taxi drivers must undergo the CPS check to qualify for a license.

Uber opposes the proposal for provincially-approved vehicle inspections every six months.

Mechanical inspections ensure the safety of passengers, drivers and citizens. All TNC vehicles should undergo a provincially-approved vehicle inspection every six months, a regulation that the taxi industry already complies with. The proposed inspection is a 134 point inspection, which is far more comprehensive than Uber's preferred standard. Uber would also like to see a one-month delay from the time of licensing to the requirement of an inspection being conducted. However, if a vehicle is unsafe, this would open up Calgarians to unnecessary risk.

Uber's desire to not comply with the province's standards will save the company money. A comprehensive safety inspection fee that The City recommends ranges from $140 to $179 and is conducted by a mechanic. The less comprehensive Uber safety check costs between $69 and $100 and can be conducted by a technician. Is the company's savings worth the risk, particularly in light of Uber's current stance on insurance.

The City has been informing drivers, passengers and the general public about risks involved in using private for-hire vehicle services. The Government of Alberta has issued an advisory notice on ride sharing services and the insurance risk they currently pose to drivers and the public, noting any third party involved in an accident in or with one of these vehicles may not have insurance.

Uber has stated that Calgary should consider the same regulatory framework that Edmonton has approved. Uber has also stated The City's proposal is unworkable for their business model.

Though there are differences between the two frameworks, I disagree that Calgary's proposal is unworkable. Below is a comparative breakdown between Edmonton's framework and Calgary's proposal. See for yourself if you think the differences are comparing apples to oranges or if The City is seeking an acceptable standard of safety for the benefit of Calgarians.

Comparable Bylaw Sections
Calgary's Proposal

Edmonton's Bylaw
Municipal Drivers Licence Requirements
  • TNC must electronically submit to City copies of documents validating application credentials and qualifications at the time of application including;
  • Commercial Insurance
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Drivers Licence Class 1,2,4
  • Driver Licence Abstract (9 points max)
  • CPS criminal history check *
  • Proof of eligibility to work in Canada
  • Mechanical Inspection **
  • TNCs will be providing a list of drivers active on platform that meet the bylaw requirements. TNC self manages credentials and qualifications.
  • Edmonton to conduct periodic audits to confirm accuracy of credentials and qualifications.
  • Commercial Insurance - Drivers Licence Class 1,2,4
  • No drivers abstract restrictions
  • Third-party criminal history check *
  • No proof of eligibility to work in Canada
  • Mechanical Inspection **
* Criminal Background
  • TNC Driver must obtain criminal Background check from Calgary Police Service, including pardoned sexual offenders.
  • TNC will use its third party service provider to complete (* limited) criminal background checks.
  • No check for pardoned sexual offenders
** Mechanical Inspections
  • TNC must obtain a provincially approved mechanical inspection form.
  • Mechanicals due every six months.
  • Mechanicals required prior to licensing TNC driver.
  • 134 point inspection, consistent with a provincial standard of inspection and consistent with requirements for other livery vehicles.
  • TNC Permitted to use its own mechanical inspection form.
  • Mechanicals required to be completed annually.
  • 26 point inspection completed by a technician.
  • Proposed municipal licensing fee of $220 per driver, per year to cover administration and enforcement
  • Calgary Police Services criminal history check of $30
  • A vulnerable sector check of $25 (only if finger prints are required)
  • A 134 point vehicle safety inspection cost estimated at $140 to $179.
  • TNCs have the opportunity to subsidize these fees and costs or pay for them outright to support their drivers
  • TNC licence fees $70,000 per year for all drivers for a TNC plus $0.06 per trip
  • Estimated cost per driver for a licence including TNC portion equals $40.
  • Administration seeking bridge
  • Estimated cost per driver for a licence including TNC portion equals $40.
  • Administration seeking bridge funding from City to increase enforcement staff until fees can be amended later this year.
  • Fees based on TNC trip volumes
  • A 26 point vehicle safety inspection cost estimated at $60 to $90.
Trip Data
  • Requiring TNCs to submit GPS data, trip start and end times
  • Enable monitoring of customer service levels, such as peak period availability.
  • Assist with police investigations and bylaw compliance
  • Informs decisions on livery policy and regulations and fosters continuous improvement
  • Data submission requirements to be determined
  • App-based rates (taxis and TNCs): unregulated rates
  • Street Hail and Phone Dispatch (taxis only): regulated rates
  • Same
  • Cameras required for taxis
  • Cameras not required for TNCs
  • No Camera requirements for Taxis or TNCs Fleet Size
Fleet Size
  • Limit on number of Taxi Plates and Accessible Taxi Plates
  • No Limit on TNC drivers
  • Same

The City of Calgary believes these proposed bylaw changes will allow TNCs to operate in a fair and competitive market. They address citizen, driver and passenger safety and support accessibility, reliability, fairness, competition and customer service. More options for getting around the city are on the way to Calgary, if Uber wishes to work together with The City to provide a safe mode of transportation. On February 22, 2016 City administration will present proposed bylaw amendments to Council. These amendments would create an environment where Uber could legally operate in Calgary. To stay updated on the outcome, sign up here to receive my monthly e-newsletter.​​

Categories: Uber

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.​