Amid rising competition during the pandemic, the City of Kingston has agreed to begin a process that will regulate ride sharing services in Kingston. The move comes after the Kingston Taxi Commission was unsuccessful in pushing for regulations in 2016. The Commission covers both the Kingston and Loyalist areas.
James Allan, the chair of the Kingston Area Taxi Commission, spoke to council on Tuesday night, urging council members to support the motion. “The main objective of the Kingston Taxi Commission is to ensure safety and fairness for riders. Customers deserve the same assurances when they use ridesharing services,” said Allan.
The Kingston Taxi Commission attempted to regulate rideshare services in 2016, but their attempts were unsuccessful as a provincial statute did not extend to ride sharing services. Since then, the commission revealed that six uber drivers have since been charged with the illegal operation of a taxi cab.
While safety was a focus of Allan’s presentation, he emphasized the harm that unregulated Uber drivers have had on the Kingston Taxi businesses. “Our local cab drivers are concerned about Uber drivers flooding the area from GTA, Toronto and Ottawa, [who are] inundating the weekend business that Kingston taxis formerly enjoyed,” added Allan.
Allan went on to say that other municipalities have moved forward with regulating ridesharing companies. For instance, Uber drivers vehicles are not allowed to use the same color scheme that is already in use by a licensed taxicab brokerage. In Ottawa, all Uber drivers are required to obtain a Private Transportation Company license.
When asked by Councillor Neill if the Commission is the best group to regulate rideshare companies, James Allan says that provincial statutes did provide initial authority for Taxi commissions, but they aren’t strong enough. “The taxi people and the rideshare people are following the same set of rules. Taxi individuals pay a lot of taxes, they pay fees and maintenance that is currently not being shared by rideshare companies,” said Allan.
In a statement, Uber said that they are “encouraged” to learn that the City of Kingston is moving towards a permanent solution that “ensures safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options continue to be available across the region to those who need it.”
Kingston’s Chief Administrative Officer Lanie Hurdle said that she intends to have a drafted document finalized by the end of Q4 of 2021. Some features of the document include the creation of a three-party transition team to define respective goals, roles and resources, inclusive consultations with rideshare and taxi companies and an updated bylaws.