Here’s what you need to know the next time you take a taxi or Uber
Toronto’s proposed UberX regulations went through city council’s policy meat grinder on Tuesday, and the result—for UberX riders, at least—is a delicious policy sausage, seasoned with the salty tears of cabbies.
At mayor John Tory’s urging, council handed the company what looks, at this point, like an almost unqualified victory over its foes at city hall and in the taxi industry. Under the terms of yesterday’s decision, UberX will soon be completely legal in Toronto. The new rules include very few new restrictions on Uber’s business model—certainly nothing stringent enough to force the company to leave town.
Not everything is totally status-quo, though. It’s not clear when the new rules will be enacted, but here’s what to watch out for once they are:
Taxis will be able to offer discount rates, just like Uber
If you hail a cab on the street, you’ll still pay the posted rate, just like always. If you summon a cab through a brokerage, though, the brokerage will be able to quote you a discounted rate. This means a taxi, in some cases, could end up being the same price as an UberX ride.
Taxis will also be able to overcharge you, just like Uber
Council’s new relaxed attitude toward cab fare cuts both ways, though: taxi brokerages will also be able to charge more than the usual rate—just like UberX does during high-demand periods. Fare hikes will only be permitted when people summon cabs with their smartphones. If you hail a taxi the old-fashioned way (on the street, with your bare hands), the driver is still legally required to charge you the normal rate.
Your UberX fare is going to increase slightly
In a nod to the taxi industry, city council is going to require UberX to charge the same base fare as cabs do: a minimum of $3.25 per ride. Uber will also be required to pay licensing fees, including a per-ride levy of 30 cents, which it may choose to pass on to customers.
Your UberX driver will have passed a legit security screening
Uber claims that it puts all its drivers through a rigorous vetting process, but until now riders have had to take the company’s word for it. As a result of yesterday’s decision, the city is going to start requiring Uber drivers to pass a city-mandated background screening. Drivers will also need $2 million in insurance coverage and, in winter, all-weather tires.
Your UberX driver’s car is going to be less impossible to spot on the street
The game of “guess which one of these identical Hyundai Elantras is my UberX ride” is about to end, permanently: city council voted to require all UberX vehicles to display some kind of identifying signage. The details have yet to be worked out, but it’s likely this will take the form of a removable decal or magnetic placard.