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Uber granted taxi brokerage licence

Last Updated Jan 22, 2016 at 9:30 pm EDT

Uber has just evened the playing field on Toronto streets.

The ridesharing program was granted a city of Toronto taxi brokerage licence on Friday, putting it on equal ground as regulated taxi companies such as Beck and Royal.

Toronto, like many cities around the world, has been struggling to monitor ridesharing services like Uber since it first set up shop in 2012.

The company applied for the licence for its taxi service last May, but not for its unregulated and controversial UberX service.

UberX, which has regular drivers transporting people in their private cars, doesn’t have commercial licences and therefore lack the regulation and oversight of traditional taxi companies. Taxi companies have argued that this puts passenger safety in jeopardy while simultaneously driving traditional cabbies out of business.

A few hours after Uber was give its official taxi brokerage licence, Coun. Jim Karygiannis brought forth a motion to the licensing committee to ask city lawyers to seek a court injunction against UberX.

After some debate the motion passed with only Coun. Josh Matlow opposed. It will now go to city council for final approval.

According to city bylaws, it is illegal for licensed taxi brokerages to connect customers to unlicensed drivers. Any company caught breaking this law is subject to a $50,000 fine.

City staff have been working on regulations for UberX and are expected to report back with their findings in the spring.

One of the recurring complaints against UberX is the lack of commercial insurance held by its drivers.

Last year, Uber said it was working with Intact Financial to create a ridesharing insurance plan.

Earlier this month Aviva Canada announced that it had plans to support Uber drivers with special coverage. The coverage will protect those contracted with UberX from the moment they initiate looking for passengers through to collecting and dropping off those passengers.