New rules for hailing a ride put residents first
Toronto’s taxi drivers should be an easy group for the public to support.
They work long hours for very little money and deserve as much as anyone a regulatory framework that is fair, and allows them to earn a decent wage.
So why does it seem like they do everything possible to pit the public against them?
Having snarled traffic in the city with massive protests on city streets and the surrounding highways, cabbies have attracted a great deal of attention to their cause, little of it positive. They invest their resources in protesting rather than competing by improving service, and in doing so they are driving away their customers.
New rules governing taxis and ride sharing services were introduced by city hall last week, providing a framework within which Uber drivers can operate legally, and levelling the playing field by subjecting them to regulations of the sort by which cabbies abide.
While some say the more stringent regulations for cab drivers are unfair, the fact is that there are important differences between the two groups. Unlike most cabbies, Uber drivers operate their own personal vehicles and spend, on average, only ten hours per week finding fares through the app.
Taxi industry supporters on city council complain that the rules favour Uber drivers, who need only have vehicle inspections once per year, and can charge ‘surge’ pricing during peak times.
Granted, Uber is sometimes cheaper than regulated taxi rates, but it’s also more expensive when surge pricing is in effect. The reason why many people prefer ride sharing over taxis comes down to the level of service.
With Uber, every passenger is asked to rate the quality of every single trip. That creates a transparent environment where drivers can know they are picking up well behaved passengers, and customers can feel secure knowing they will be driven to their destination in a safe, clean vehicle by a competent driver. It provides an incentive for drivers to deliver a courteous, professional experience for passengers.
All taxi drivers were required to take a 17-day training course to learn to navigate the city, preparing them to serve as ambassadors to the city. With the new regulations, even that mandatory training requirement has been dropped. And once a taxi driver behind the wheel they aren’t subject to any further review of how they treat passengers.
The ratings system holds Uber drivers to a customer service standard that the taxi industry doesn’t even begin to approach. The cars are clean, short trips are more affordable and payment is handled by the app which even allows you to estimate the cost of your trip before hailing a driver. Compare that to cabs where the credit machine mysteriously malfunctions when you reach your destination too often to be coincidence.