Contemplating the City of Toronto’s latest position on Uber is like contemplating existence itself. You know it’s there, but you can’t always quite believe it.
Last week, the city effectively outlawed Uber, the app-based taxi service that launched in Toronto in 2012. Where once Uber fell outside the existing rules, the city now defines it as a taxicab broker and limousine service company, which means it can’t operate without a municipal licence.
The council also voted to ask city officials to propose a new regulatory framework that in all likelihood will ultimately allow Uber to operate as it always has, regardless of definitions.
But that’s not coming until next year. In the meantime, the city has passed a motion asking Uber to cease its operations until the new framework is brought to council. The company has refused to comply. Mayor John Tory has indicated he is willing to live with that, because enforcing the new rules would be impractical since they might not apply in a year’s time.
To recap: Uber is now illegal but the city can’t enforce its decision, but it doesn’t matter because next year there will be no need to enforce it because Uber won’t be illegal any more.
What just happened? Simple. Ride-sharing technology has disrupted the city’s outdated taxicab model beyond repair. The Toronto council has delayed the inevitable end of that model by kicking its next major decision down the road. At the same time, it has reduced the basic licensed-taxi fare from $4.25 to $3.25 so that cabbies can better compete with Uber drivers.
In other words, Uber wins. Consumers too.
Editor's Note: The original print version and an earlier digital version of this editorial gave incorrect information about Toronto City Council's vote on Uber. This digital version has been corrected.Report Typo/Error
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