Uber ride-sharing service targeted as Toronto seeks injunction
City wants to ban San Francisco-based taxi alternative
The City of Toronto is seeking an injunction to stop Uber, a San Francisco-based ride-sharing service, from operating within the city's limits.
Tracey Cook, executive director of municipal licensing and standards, said at a news conference on Tuesday that the service poses a risk to the residents of Toronto, and users of the service do so at their own peril.
"Anyone driving as an UberX driver is doing so in violation of city bylaws," she said.
Uber allows users to hail a private car or taxi from their mobile phone. UberX allows anyone to turn their car into a taxi — passengers can use the program to request a ride from any other UberX user.
Operating a taxi service in Toronto requires a $300 brokerage licence and compliance with city taxi bylaws.
Cook said Uber has been operating in the city since 2012 and has committed at least 36 bylaw infractions in that time.
Calgary has already banned Uber and Vancouver is considering doing the same.
A 'monopoly on Toronto's streets'
Uber has said there won't be any changes to its operations, and it's asking customers to sign a petition against the city.
According to the company, the real issue is the taxi industry protecting its profit margins.
"Taxi companies are pressuring city council to stifle competition and protect their monopoly on Toronto’s streets," the company said in a statement.
"Ridesharing brings costs down for consumers and creates thousands of new jobs for drivers. It expands transportation options for Torontonians and will ultimately lead to fewer cars on our roads."
This isn't the only controversy Uber has faced in recent days. According to a BuzzFeed article, an Uber executive suggested last week that the company should spend a million dollars to hire a team of opposition researchers to "dig up dirt" on its critics in the media.
Support for Uber
Uber does have its supporters, though.
John Tory, Toronto's mayor-elect, did not agree with the city's action.
"Uber, and services like it, are here to stay," he said in a statement.
"It is time our regulatory system got in line with evolving consumer demands in the 21st century. As mayor, I intend to see that it does, while being fair to all parties, respecting the law and public safety."
In addition to Tory, the dance music star Deadmau5 also likes Uber. He recently participated in the UberX program, acting as a ride-share driver in Toronto for a night.