Legal action is the only recourse left for Toronto’s beleaguered taxi industry
(Editor’s note: The following letter was written in response to recent news British Columbia is moving to legislate ride-sharing in the province before the end of 2019.)
Over the past few years our members have always used BC as an example of a jurisdiction that is keeping out Private Transportation Companies (“PTC”), but I kept telling them that it was only a matter of time before they will be operating there and here we are, that time is almost arrived.
Whether our industry wants to accept it or not, governments the world over want to deregulate and eventually eradicate the present taxi industry format in favour of PTC’s that are self-regulating and will generate more licensing revenue.
Will this work? No, it won’t and that has been proven over the past several decades with other municipalities around the world that have tried various forms of deregulation. Without responsible licensing numbers, no one even in the PTC format will be able to earn a living either, whether it is on a full-time or part-time basis as their numbers will steadily increase, and the pie only has so many slices. And so begins the inevitable downward spiral. Because not enough individual driver revenue will be generated due to the ever increasing numbers in PTC fleets, the standard of vehicle repair and cleanliness along with experienced, competent drivers, will all decline, resulting in the complete erosion of consumer safety. And regulators will be able to do nothing to stem this inevitable decline because every municipality that I have checked has nothing anywhere near the manpower and resources to police the ever growing PTC fleets.
This so-called ride-sharing phenomenon is just one more example how governments are incapable of looking down the road and examining what the eventual outcome of their decisions will be and live, instead, to legislate and regulate for today and immediate political advantage and tomorrow be damned. When this all collapses, and it will in the future, the public that depends on the vehicle-for-hire industry will start screaming at government to rectify the situation and everyone will be right back where this all started, which is having major stakeholders meetings in an effort to correct the mess that government and the ride-sharing companies created. In my opinion, cleaning up this mess will be a mammoth task they may never succeed in completing.
The problems that will arise is when this occurs in the future, there will be no experienced taxi industry members left as we will either be deceased, retired or moved on to other employment and the very few that will still be alive will never engage with government again on the issue of industry reform. Taxi industry stakeholders have been sorely used by our government regulators, and we have all seen enough of government “consultations” in which our input and years of experience were completely ignored. These consultation sessions inevitably wind up being a total waste of time and resources in which our years of sacrifice and service to the taxi using public have gone completely unrewarded. To continue in the futile search for a political-bureaucratic resolution to these problems is a total waste of our members time, as the enactment of Toronto’s VFH bylaw has made it very clear what the City’s true intentions are for our industry.
The courts are the last venue of hope for our industry and with the recent upswing in the number of municipalities and other jurisdictions being taken to court by taxi industry members seeking restitution it has become evident to me that there are legal people much more learned in law than myself, who have done the research and feel there are justifiable reasons to pursue a civil suit. If we are successful in winning a civil action against the City, I recommend you take the money and run, as there is no future in our industry. Let this regulatory catastrophe collapse over the heads of government and leave the mess for them to try and clean up, we have done more than our part to try and educate them in these matters and they refuse to listen.