Taxi industry calls on Calgary to level playing field with ride-share companies like Uber

Calgary's taxi industry is demanding changes to the city's livery bylaws, which they say have drivers struggling to compete with upstart ride-share services like Uber.

City may review livery rules, after industry was disrupted by Uber's entry into market

Calgary may review its bylaw that governs how both Ubers and taxis operate. (Reuters)

Calgary's taxi industry is demanding changes to the city's livery bylaws, which industry leaders say have drivers struggling to compete with upstart ride-share services like Uber.

City administration is recommending a full review of the livery transport bylaw, which governs how both taxis and ride-shares are allowed to operate.

That's something Kurt Enders, president of Checker Transportation Group, would like to see.

"The number of professional drivers or taxi drivers is dwindling. They are having a tough time making ends meet and now are doing second jobs to bolster their income," said Enders. "This is happening at a time when we were we're being forced to pay a disproportionate amount of money to get a business license for them to earn a living."

Enders said the number of taxi licences are limited while the number of Uber drivers are not, and he's calling for a cap on the number of ride-sharing vehicles on the road as well as what he describes as a more equitable approach to fees.

The city's already undertaken an outside review of its current fee schedule.

Lonni Schultz, who prepared that review, said in some ways the way fees are divided could be compared to a person that orders a salad at a restaurant, while their friend orders three courses and "says for simplicity's sake, let's split the bill."

The city is suggesting council approve a full review of the bylaw, and pair it with the findings of the fee review to revamp the system.

3 years since Uber entered Calgary market

Administration said the accelerated review could by funded with $1.1 million from the livery transport services reserve fund in order to complete it as soon as 2020.

It's been three years since the current rules were implemented and Uber entered into the market, and Coun. George Chahal said it's time to explore the lessons learned during that time.

"We need to take a look and make this fair, fair for everybody involved. Fair for the taxi drivers and fair for the [ride-share] drivers," he said.

The number of trips taken by taxi and ride-share companies in Calgary topped 10 million last year — 60 per cent were done by taxis and 40 per cent were completed by ride-shares..

As of February, there were about 4,500 taxi drivers in Calgary and about 4,100 licensed ride-share drivers. However, some drivers do work for both platforms.

City council will decide whether or not to proceed with the review on May 27.

With files from Reid Southwick


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