Edmonton

Another major debate on Uber, TappCar and taxis headed for Edmonton city hall this fall

City councillors say the city’s new ride-sharing regulations need to be tightened up, as the most popular company is not operating under the “spirit” of the rules.

Council to debate strengthening rules for non-taxi companies that pick up rides

TappCar spokesperson Pascal Ryffel says he hopes the company will be consulted as council looks at tightening regulations. (CBC)

City councillors say Edmonton's new ride-for-hire regulations need to be tightened up, as the most popular company is not operating under the "spirit" of the rules.

TappCar launched in March, shortly after council passed new rules to allow non-taxi companies to pick up passengers.

Since then, councillors say they've received numerous complaints from people in the traditional taxi industry about the company exploiting loopholes in the legislation

Mayor Don Iveson said he's particularly concerned about the size of the decals TappCar uses, which are quite large and could attract illegal street hails.

He said TappCar has been "pushing their luck" with the size of the decals, though there are currently no regulations about what size the decals should be.

"I think it's not what council had in mind," Iveson said. "I believe the … bylaw will have to be tighted up to put a stop to that."

TappCar spokesperson Pascal Ryffel said the company has already started marking new vehicles with smaller logos in response to council's concerns.

Mayor Don Iveson says TappCar is 'pushing their luck' with large decals on the side of their cars, which might invite illegal street hails. (CBC)

But he said making sure cars are clearly marked is very important.

"If you don't have any decals at all, there's no way of knowing for sure that you're getting into a car that's supposed to be driving vehicle-for-hire," Ryffel said. "It becomes a security issue."

He said he hopes if the rules change the existing markings on TappCar's vehicles could be grandfathered.

Councillors say they've also received complaints about loopholes in the bylaw that allow the company to run pseudo-cab stands, which are supposed to be forbidden.

The rules were created to try to create a level playing field for new companies and traditional cabs.

"In terms of leveling the playing field, I don't think we've come close to that," Coun. Dave Loken said.

Coun. Moe Banga urged council to pass a motion asking city staff to look into the regulations and close those loopholes.

"I don't want it to come to fisticuffs," said Banga.

Councillors are also looking for more information about the city's enforcement of the bylaw, which city administration has refused to release to the public. 

Iveson said the bylaw was always intended to be a work in progress that would be refined over time. Council will have another major debate on the rules surrounding vehicle-for-hire services before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the province is announcing new regulations for similar companies this afternoon.

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