Saskatoon

Cab association says having no cap on Uber, Lyft cars on Saskatoon streets is 'ludicrous'

The proposed bylaw, which would allow companies like Lyft and Uber to operate in Saskatoon, does not place a cap on the number of cars companies can operate.

Councillors to vote on new bylaw Monday

The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association isn't happy with a bylaw on ride-hailing services headed to Saskatoon City Council. (Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association/Facebook)

The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association isn't happy with a bylaw on ride-hailing services headed to Saskatoon city council.

The bylaw, which would allow companies like Lyft and Uber to operate, does not place a cap on the number of cars companies can operate.

In contrast, taxi companies are currently limited to 210 cabs on the road.

"To have an unlimited amount of TNCs (transportation network companies) on the road is ludicrous," said cab association director Kelly Frie. "They should start out with a level that is sustainable. If we need more, we'll use data to provide an analysis."

According to a report heading to council, no Canadian city with ride-hailing services caps the number of cars on the road. While Toronto is reviewing caps, only New York City has brought in a temporary cap while the issue is studied.

Kingston tried to implement a cap this year, but put the issue on hold when a complaint was filed with the federal competition bureau.

Frie said the new rules would create an unfair playing field, if passed.

"I don't mind competition," he said. "But you cannot handcuff one industry and one competitor, and not put handcuffs on the other one."

Ray Mundy, director of the Centre for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri, said an uncapped market could seriously damage the local taxi industry.

"I would hope that the City of Saskatoon would work to introduce 100 new ride sharing vehicles at a time, and not the thousand or so you can expect, even in a city the size of Saskatoon," he told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "Hopefully, they have the ability to do it."

Mundy, who has worked with both Regina and Saskatoon on taxi regulation, said ride-hailing has caused serious damage to taxi industries in other cities. He estimates cab companies could lose anywhere from 25 to 30 per cent of its income in an uncapped market.

"You really have an advantage by being a latecomer to the ride-sharing industry," he said.

Cab cameras

The taxi cab association also isn't happy that ride-hailing cars would not have mandatory in-car cameras.

Frie said cameras are an important safety measure for both drivers and passengers. He cited a recent example where Comfort Cab released video of an altercation between a driver and passenger.

"I don't know how public service vehicles would not have a camera in place," he said. "It's a very scary thought."

The association also wasn't pleased with pricing. While both taxis and ride-hailing cars will charge a minimum fee of $3.75, Frie said there will be no further control on pricing after that.

Meanwhile, Prof. Mundy said ride-hailing companies are known for bringing in low prices, especially when they arrive in a city, to undercut competitors.

"Uber enters the market with rates that may be 30 to 40 per cent of a taxi cab," he said. "And with hundreds of vehicles there, with a population of your size, the impact would be very quick."

 Last week, the provincial government announced it would be officially opening the doors to ride-hailing later this month

The bylaw is expected to be voted on at the Saskatoon City Council meeting on Monday.

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