City of Toronto asks citizens for input on Uber

The City of Toronto wants your help in understanding the appeal of Uber.

City Council has asked its staff to perform a review ground transportation in Toronto, particularly taxis, limousines and the controversial Uber ridesharing app. The goal of the review is, in part, to “understan[d] the interests of the public in the technology and services that Uber provides.”

Torontonians are invited to fill out an online survey, or offer feedback by phone, email or on paper. There are two sets of questions, one for the general public, and one for people who work in, or have some other link to, the taxi and limousine industry or Uber.

 Questions for the general public include:

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Questions for members of the taxi or limousine industry include:

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And, for respondents who indicate they work for Uber:

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Surveys responses will be accepted until Aug. 14.

City staff will report their findings to Toronto’s Licensing and Standards Committee Sept. 18.

Uber has been the subject of several months’ worth of debate over business licensing.

The Uber app can be used to summon licensed cab drivers. But another of the company’s services, UberX, connects passengers with private drivers, who use their own vehicles and do not have taxi licences.

Licensed taxicab drivers have complained that Uber, which allows passengers to pay lower fares than traditional cab companies, has an unfair business advantage.

The municipal government has argued that Uber should need a taxi brokers’ license to operate in Toronto. Uber says it is merely a communications company that connects people.

In November 2014, the City of Toronto applied for a court injunction against Uber in an attempt to stop the company from operating here. But, on July 3, an Ontario Superior Court judge ruled against the City, saying, “Uber is not carrying on a business in Toronto that is required to be licenced as a limousine service company or taxicab broker.”

Nevertheless, on July 8, City Council voted to crack down on UberX, and asked both police and bylaw officers to issue fines. To date, 36 UberX drivers are facing a total of 72 charges.

Mayor John Tory has said UberX is currently operating outside the law but he would like to see a new municipal bylaw that regulates both Uber and traditional, licensed cab companies, to help level the playing field.