Toronto

Here are Toronto's new rules for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft

The City of Toronto is now enforcing a stricter set of bylaws for ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

New drivers will have to have 3 years of experience

Drivers for ride-hailing services will now face the same training and experience requirements as taxi and limousine drivers. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The City of Toronto is now enforcing a stricter set of bylaws for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

The updated "vehicle-for-hire" regulations went into effect on Wednesday with the aim of improving public safety. The new rules also apply to taxis and limousines.

If you use ride-hailing services to get around, the changing rules won't affect you much. However, there are major changes for drivers.

Here's what's new:

  • Drivers must now complete a city-approved training program that will cover topics including safe driving, driving in an urban environment, anti-racism and sensitivity.
    • Current drivers have until the end of 2020 to complete the training, while new drivers must complete training starting June 1.
  • Drivers must have a minimum of three years driving experience.
    • The previous minimum was one year of experience.
  • All vehicles must now include "watch for bike" notices.
    • Companies must also send notifications to passengers reminding them to watch for cyclists before exiting.
  • Drivers must display a notice if they are using a camera to record passengers.
  • Drivers must securely mount any handheld devices inside the vehicle.

The updated bylaws also include a new accessibility fund aimed to offset the cost of providing wheelchair accessible services. Companies applying for or renewing licenses must now pay new fees associated with the program.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft will also pay 10 cents per trip toward the new accessibility fund.

Mandatory training programs don't exist yet

While the city will soon require drivers to pass a training program, the program itself does not exist yet.

"This is going to take some time to roll out," said Carleton Grant, executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards.

He said the city is working with Centennial College to develop the program, with the aim of having it ready by June 1, when new drivers will be required to have proof of training.

Kristine Hubbard of Beck taxi said the new regulations are deeply flawed.

She compared the updated bylaws to "lipstick on a pig," and said they will not improve safety on Toronto streets. She also criticized the city for not including fuel efficiency requirements in the new rules.

Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi, calls the updated bylaws ineffective and says the city will not properly enforce them. (CBC)

"I don't think there are a lot of changes happening here; it's pretty disappointing," Hubbard told CBC Toronto.

She said the new rules around training and safety notices will also be difficult to enforce, especially for the drivers of ride-hailing services, whose vehicles are sometimes not clearly marked.

"There's a complete lack of enforcement," Hubbard said.

The city acknowledged those challenges, but Grant said enforcement officers conduct daily inspections of ride-hailing vehicles.

"We don't give away all of our strategies on enforcement, but we know where a lot of the drop-offs and pickups are happening," he said.

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