Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo Region requirements for taxi drivers versus Uber drivers

With Uber now operating its UberX ride share service in the region, CBC took the time to find out what it takes to be a driver, and how that compares with the requirements that must be met by local taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers had mixed reactions to Uber's foray into Waterloo Region on Thursday. The company is launching its low-cost ride-sharing service UberX in Waterloo Region, Guelph, London and Hamilton. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC )

Uber launched its UberX ride-sharing service in Waterloo Region on Thursday. The service allows people who aren't taxi drivers to use their cars to drive others for a fee. 

So what does it take for someone to be an UberX driver? And how does that compare with the requirements that must be met by local taxi drivers? 

We spoke to Uber Canada and Angelo Apfelbaum, the Region of Waterloo's mananger of licensing and enforcement, for some answers. 

DRIVERS

  • Criminal record check: Both Uber and the Region of Waterloo require a criminal record check. Uber asks for checks from both the RCMP and local police forces, while the Region of Waterloo specifies that it wants a record check from the jurisdiction where the driver lives. The Region also requires that drivers prove that they haven't had a taxi licence suspended in the Region of Waterloo or elsewhere, or that they haven't been convicted of any offences under any taxi cab bylaws, either in the region or in another municipality.

  • Driving record check: Both Uber and the Region of Waterloo require drivers to provide a driving record. According to Apfelbaum, if drivers have more than two demerits or two actions on their driving record, the record has to be reviewed before a licence can be issued. The Region requires drivers have a valid Ontario driver's licence with at least two years of driving experience in Canada. Uber requires drivers to be 21 years or older and have a fully graduated driver's licence. 

  • Literacy check: Taxi drivers have to provide the region with proof of literacy in English. The region gives a test to people who speak English as a second language. For drivers who were educated in English, they need to provide proof, such as a high school diploma.

  • Additional training: Any drivers who drive accessible vehicles for people with physical disabilities are required to take additional training with Grand River Transit. In addition, the Waterloo Region Taxi Association requires drivers to take a sexual awareness course. Some taxi brokerages may also require first aid training.

  • Photos: Both Uber and the Region require drivers to have their photo visible to riders. In Uber's case, the driver's photo is displayed in the app, along with the driver's type of vehicle, licence number and phone number. Taxi drivers in the region are required to post their licence in a visible place in the cab, with their picture, first name and taxi-cab licence number. 

VEHICLES

  • Meters: Taxis in the region are required to have working taxi meters that calculate time and distance correctly. Uber drivers rely on the app to calculate fares.

  • Vehicle safety certificates and inspections: Any taxi driver with a vehicle that is 10 years old or older is required to provide safety certificates to the Region every six months. Vehicles that are newer must provide safety certificates every year. In addition, a bylaw officer will personally inspect a taxi to make sure safety standards are met for tires, door locks and handles, lights and insurance. Uber says the average model year of vehicles in Canada using the service is 2009, and no vehicles are older than 2005. As for inspections, Uber partners with local garages in cities where the service operates, and has Uber drivers upload photos of their vehicles and copies of their inspection reports to prove the vehicle's safety. Uber also requires that all cars have four doors. 

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