O for the ‘good old days’
Do you remember the “good old days” when the City wanted to create a professional class of taxicab drivers who could earn a decent living while serving the public safely and well?
While we totally agreed creation of professional taxi drivers was, and still is, a good idea, (and have for decades) we seriously disagreed with the City’s methodology that created an awful mess.
Fast forward a few years and Uber, Lyft and other app-based dispatching companies appeared on the scene and suddenly there was this massive rush to the bottom in just about every way to measure taxicab, or for hire vehicle, service. The fact is that Uber, Lyft, etc. are nothing but scoopers by another name, taking away the livelihoods from people who have invested their money and livelihoods in the taxi business by doing everything the City has asked or demanded of them for decades.
The City somehow thinks it is in the public interest to replace professional taxi drivers with part time amateurs. Tell that to Cheryl Hawkes, the mother of dead Uber passenger Nicholas Cameron. (As an aside, we’d love to see Hawkes file a wrongful death lawsuit, naming, among others, the City as defendants.)
We firmly believe the root of this present mess is the loathing of City staff and politicians for the idea that a lowly immigrant taxicab driver might actually have something of value in his or her pocket at the end of their careers. They appear horrified that a taxi license with value might supply a meager old age pension to an aged cab driver and his family.
The advent of Uber and Lyft and others gave the City the perfect chance to kill the taxi business outright by blatantly, shamelessly, giving the newcomers significant marketplace advantages, including not enforcing the bylaws in any way against the newcomers, while stepping up onerous and expensive enforcement efforts against traditionally licensed taxi drivers.
We must not forget that the City is profiting immensely to the tune of about $7 million a year in fees from the app-based dispatchers while spending not a red cent on enforcement. It is pure gravy, found money. (Motive, means and opportunity = ???)
Now we are at the end of yet another round of consultations about the taxi and for hire vehicle bylaw. We are hard pressed to find anyone in the taxi business confident this latest gab-fest will do an iota of good for their industry.
They report meeting agendas geared to what he City wants to do, rather than coming up with ways to alleviate the dire straits traditional taxis are in. They report total disinterest on the part of the City to help traditional taxis. Based on past experience with these “consultations” we also hold little hope taxis will be helped in any way. If anything, we see taxis being further imposed upon.
In a fascinating turn of events, we now see a Quebec judge saying in certifying a class action lawsuit in that province brought by the taxi industry against the government, “At the heart of this case is the question of why, if two groups are carrying out the same commercial activities, the government treats one group differently than the other.”
The Province of Quebec has already paid taxi plate owners up to $46,700 each and the lawsuit is asking that drivers be compensated $1,000 each plus owners to be further compensated for the loss of their plate value.
In Mississauga, the City is at least looking at compensating taxi plate holders $50,000 each.
In Toronto the All Taxi Owners and Operators Ltd. (ATOOL) is moving forward with its $1.7 billion lawsuit against the City.
Given past experience with the City of Toronto and noting what is going on in other jurisdictions both politically and in the courts, we have concluded the ATOOL group has the best chance of gaining a degree of justice for beleaguered taxi drivers and owners. They deserve your support, morally and financially.
We hope the courts will agree the City has treated taxis abominably and order significant compensation.