A new ride-sharing program has landed in Toronto but the city could try to slam the brakes on it before it even picks up speed.
With the swipe of a finger, anyone can be taken for ride thanks to a new service launched this week in Toronto and Mississauga called UberX.
The ride-share program allows people to use their personal vehicles to provide rides to folks who request it through the Uber app.
The ride reportedly costs about 40 per cent less than a typical taxi fare.
Bill Vrebosch signed up as a driver for the service so one day he can put down an offer on a house.
“I’ve been looking at the housing pricing and I’ve been noticing that I will probably need a little extra cash to get out to that housing market,” he told CityNews.
Vrebosch said he pulled in about $150 in a single day with the program.
However, some are warning the service could pose a public safety risk.
One of the big differences between UberX and a taxi is that drivers do not have commercial insurance, which leaves some wondering – if something were to happen would passengers be covered under insurance?
“The likelihood is that their claim would be denied,” Peter Karageorgos with the Insurance Bureau of Canada explained. “When you turn your vehicle into a commercial venture, your insurance requirements definitely change.”
UberX also has many in the taxi industry angry because UberX drivers don’t have to pay sky-high licensing fees and insurance rates like the city requires of licensed taxi drivers.
“It’s taxi drivers, professional licensed taxi drivers, who are charging the regulated rates, protecting the people who are using it, getting people where they need to go,” Beck Taxi’s Kristine Hubbard said. “They’ve built this industry and it’s a slap in the face. It’s an insult, from a regulator that has done nothing to protect them.”
However, the city is also not hopping on board with UberX, citing safety concerns.
“The City has significant concerns that UBER has launched a service, identified as UBERX, which may be in contravention of the City’s bylaws, including those governing private transportation providers,” city officials said in a statement released Tuesday. “We have engaged the expertise of the City’s Legal department, and are reviewing every legal option available to us to address any potential breaches of law, with the objective of ensuring the protection of the public.”
Uber says the public and its drivers are protected through $5 million of insurance on every UberX ride.
That’s two and a half times the insurance that Toronto taxi and limousine rides have.
The city has already handed UberX 35 bylaw infractions but those won’t be heard in court until October.
Uber says it is confident it will work out a deal with the city between now and then.