Toronto's taxi versus Uber landscape an 'obvious powder keg': Beck

One of Toronto’s largest taxi companies said it urged its drivers not to inconvenience Torontonians with a citywide protest against Uber, but the drivers’ anger “boiled over” on Wednesday.

Cab company had asked its drivers not to join mass protests

A taxi driver shouts "John Tory! Shame!" amid a demonstration that shut down the intersection of Queen and Bay on Wednesday evening. (John Rieti/CBC)

One of Toronto's largest taxi companies said it urged its drivers not to inconvenience Torontonians with a citywide protest against Uber, but the drivers' anger "boiled over" on Wednesday.

"We know the taxi industry didn't put its best foot forward yesterday, but the anger expressed didn't come from nowhere," said Kristine Hubbard, Beck's operations manager, in a statement released via the public relations firm Navigator.

Hubbard said the thousands of Torontonians who were stuck in traffic or had their normal transit routes blocked as a result of the daylong protests should also direct some blame at the city.

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      "For city hall to allow months and months to pass without dealing with the reality that 10,000 full-time drivers are left to compete against an illegal taxi operator is an obvious powder keg in the making,"

      Hubbard said her company asked the city to freeze licensing fees for taxi drivers to help ease some of the tension but never heard back.

      Taxi drivers say paying those fees, plus the costs of commercial insurance and vehicle inspections make it impossible to compete with UberX — the ride-hailing service that allows anyone to use their personal vehicle as a cab.

      The city has already decreased the taxi meter rate to make traditional taxis more competitive and is reviewing its bylaws when it comes to the ground transportation business.

      Mayor John Tory, speaking yesterday amid the protests, said the city is still working on modernizing the city's rules when it comes to the cab industry, but that major protests won't speed up the process. 

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