New taxi organization calls for industry-wide support to fight ‘bandit transportation’
by John Q. Duffy
A new industry-wide taxi association is being proposed by a wide spectrum of industry groups in Toronto.
The aim of the proposed group is to present a united front to combat the advent of app-based taxi dispatching systems and other illegally operating “bandit” cabs in the city that have allegedly devastated traditional licensed taxi businesses.
Organizers say they have already obtained widespread interest in such a new group, with initial backing from taxicab brokerages, fleet operators, Owner/Operators, driver groups such as iTaxiworkers, and ethnic-based groups like the Bangladeshi Taxi driver association.
Sajid Mughal, President of the iTaxiworkers Association and Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager of Beck Taxi both commented that they support effective efforts to combat Uber and they agree the licensed taxi industry needs to speak with a unified voice on this issue.
Both were disappointed with the lack of support the industry has received from Toronto Police in enforcing City bylaws forbidding illegal, unlicensed, taxi operations.
As well, a driver association at Pearson International Airport has also voiced interest in a new umbrella group, as they are also concerned about loss of business to app-based dispatch systems.
Paul Sekhon, General Manager of City Taxi, a prime proponent of the new association, says the first meeting will be held on Sunday, February 7th at 6:00 pm at the Woodbine Convention Centre
at 30 Vice Regent Blvd., in Etobicoke.
Sekhon said, “We need to form together for this fight and for the taxi industry to stick together and speak with one voice against illegal operators such as bandit cabs, gypsy cabs, taking away business from legal cabs.”
He continued, “The object of this meeting is to protect our industry from the illegals and make sure the shift drivers, owner/operators, fleet operators and taxi brokerages are protected.
An ad in this issue of the paper invites all taxi and limousines associations and groups to come together “as one” to combat “bandit transportation companies.”
He said the fledgling group has already generated “lots of support, lots of feedback. Momentum is high.”
He said even shift drivers are expressing interest in combating illegal operations, “for the first time ever.”
He said the widespread new interest in an industry-wide group is all the result of the demonstration held at City hall and Queen’s Park on December 9, 2015.
He also said “We have no support from most of the elected officials and the City is doing nothing to help us.”
He said the City has to “enforce the law and not manipulate the law and accommodate the illegals.”
Uber Canada received a taxicab brokerage license in January, allowing it to legally dispatch to licensed taxicabs in Toronto.
It is still illegal for non-licensed drivers and vehicles, both taxis and limousines, to carry passengers for hire, as with the UberX and Uber Black services, according to Tracey Cook, Executive Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards.
After a meeting of the Licensing and Standards Committee of Toronto City Council on February 21st, Cook stressed that charges have been and would continue to be laid against illegally operating drivers and any dispatch operation that connected them with passengers.
Some charges will likely be heard in court in June, Cook said.