Uber busy: City bylaw staff consumed with auditing ride-for-hire company

Ottawa bylaw officers are so busy checking up on Uber drivers that they hardly have time to inspect other companies, according to a report to be tabled at the community and protective services committee meeting Tuesday morning.

Ottawa bylaw staff don't have time to investigate other businesses

The city's bylaw staff say they've been so busy with administrative duties related to Uber drivers that they don't have time to investigate other businesses. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

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  • Council accepted this report on Oct. 25, 2017.

Ottawa bylaw officers are so busy checking up on Uber drivers that they hardly have time to inspect other companies, according to a report to be tabled at the community and protective services committee meeting Tuesday morning.

In April 2016, council passed new rules that would allow companies like Uber to operate legally in Ottawa.

The rules for the capital's 3,000 Uber drivers are less stringent than those for traditional taxi drivers, but still require more work from bylaw staff. 

Starting in October 2016, bylaw began overseeing the so-called private transportation companies — or PTCs — and "began regular, frequent and ongoing audits of PTC company driver records including: insurance coverage, valid driver license verification, vehicle safety documentation, police records checks and detailed trip data," according to the bylaw and regulatory services department's 2016 annual report.

"Investigations related to unlicensed taxi services also became a part of bylaw and regulatory services' regular duties."

Although bylaw staff say the Uber-related duties have been absorbed by existing staff, it has come at a cost of investigating other business.

They have too few people, for example, to check whether businesses are operating with expired or invalid licences. And there is "limited" opportunity to improve service due to the demands on existing staff, according to the report.

Senior bylaw staff are due to deliver a detailed report on the first year of Uber service to the committee next month, where they are expected, among other things, to revisit the issue of whether cameras should be mandatory in vehicles.