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News | Uber faces injunction in Montreal

Uber needs to be regulated, Uber driver says

On Wednesday, February 10, Montreal taxi and limousine drivers occupied the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport to protest the popular ride-hailing provider Uber. The one-day strike included drivers working for Taxi Champlain and hundreds of other drivers from the Montreal taxi industry who consider Uber to be an illegal service.

A similar strike was also planned in Toronto on Friday, February 12, during the rush hour of the NBA All-Star Weekend, but was later called off.

The Montreal taxi industry has recently filed a request for an injunction to permanently cease Uber’s operations and deactivate the company’s mobile app throughout Montreal.

“It says you need to share transport but you just share your gas. But giving calls to somebody who’s taking you from point A to point B is clearly taxi business.”

Benoit Jugand, who is the spokesperson for the taxi drivers union Regroupement des travailleurs autonomes Métallo, in an interview with Metro, said that Uber is separate from ride-sharing, and thus illegal.

“Ride-sharing is well-defined with the transportation law,” Jugand said. “It says you need to share transport but you just share your gas. But giving calls to somebody who’s taking you from point A to point B is clearly taxi business,” he said.

“It’s not normal that the industry must take care of what’s supposed to be done by the government. […] It’s simple: taxi is legal and Uber is illegal. The law says it. The law is clear. We simply want the law to be applied.”

A current Uber driver, who is a former taxi driver and wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily in French that although Uber is not regulated, he believes that Uber’s operations should be considered legal.

“As [Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard implied], Uber is uncontrollable. So, it just has to be regulated. He didn’t mention the word ‘illegal.’ It’s just regulations.”

“It’s not illegal, it’s just not regulated. […] As [Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard implied], Uber is uncontrollable. So, it just has to be regulated. He didn’t mention the word ‘illegal.’ It’s just regulations,” he said.

However, UberX, a service that allows non-professional drivers to transport passengers in personal cars for less than standard taxi fare, has been called “illegal” by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and by the Quebec government.

“In the taxi industry, we have taxi inspectors, and we should not confuse them with police officers, because people think that it’s the police who give tickets to [UberX]. […] It’s the taxi inspectors who detect [UberX] cars, and they have the right to seize a car […] and write a $500 ticket. And of course, Uber deals with all of this,” the anonymous Uber driver said.

As of October 2015, taxi drivers in Montreal are required to comply with a new bylaw that mandates that all taxis accept credit and debit cards. Before that point, many taxis only accepted cash.

“I think that all that taxi drivers are looking for is cash,” said the Uber driver. “With cash, we can never know, the government can never control the industry. I find it’s the opposite with Uber: if they regulate it and reach an agreement so that each transaction is real, at the end of the month we have all the transactions, and our taxes can be paid without any issues.”

“[Uber is] only illegal because the regulations are designed to […] have one provider […] for this type of taxi service, which is really unfair because it limits choice and quality for consumers.”

Justin Hatherly, a U2 History student, told The Daily that although he believes the legality of Uber is “in limbo right now […] Uber should be legalized.”

“[Uber is] only illegal because the regulations are designed to […] have one provider […] for this type of taxi service, which is really unfair because it limits choice and quality for consumers,” said Hatherly.

“[But] fairness is relative. It can seem very unfair to people who’ve paid […] to buy their taxi license. But if you justify that, you could basically justify every other interest or wanting the same level of protection to the […] economy as a whole.”

Hatherly commented that the government should compensate for the declining value of taxi licenses. “What I think has to be done is that the government should buy out taxi drivers from their licenses because they did pay a lot of money for them, but after the buyout, that’s it, we’re not allowing people to get these licenses anymore,” Hatherly suggested.

“It affects the taxi drivers very negatively, because they see more competition, they lose market share, they’re probably having fewer customers than they did prior to Uber.”

Hatherly continued, “It affects the taxi drivers very negatively, because they see more competition, they lose market share, they’re probably having fewer customers than they did prior to Uber. But maybe it will put pressure on them to offer a better service.”