Uber and taxi drivers, now bitter adversaries, are going to battle at Edmonton city hall this week. But this time they have something in common.
Both the ride-share company and traditional cabs say the city’s plan to revise its regulations and make Uber legal would drive them out of town.
Licensing director Garry Dziwenka unveiled the plans Sept. 4, which would make Edmonton the first city in Canada to legalise the controversial company.
Dziwenka said the city’s goal was to make room for the new service while protecting traditional cabs.
In an effort to make sure Uber and other ride-share companies are safe, the city proposed rules that would require potential drivers to undergo criminal record checks, vehicle inspections, license applications and get commercial insurance.
That would set an Uber driver back approximately $6,800 a year. Uber spokesperson Xavier Van Chau called the proposal “unworkable,” given most drivers don’t work for them full-time.
Uber driver Eskinder just recently began picking up fares using the app to make some extra money on the weekends. CBC agreed not to use his last name because he could be fined by the city.
Eskinder said the expense would be too much to justify the few hours he works for Uber, and he has no intention of quitting his day job. He would have to stop.
“I don’t think I can afford paying all of this money,” he said. “I can’t keep this job like regular job. I work as a part time.”
Uber officials said many of their drivers would be in a similar situation.
Last week, in an email to its Edmonton clients, Uber wrote that “if amendments are not adopted Uber will be unable to continue operating in Edmonton.”
The company would like to see the burden of regulation fall on them, rather than individual drivers. Its business model depends on it.
Ridesharing drivers beware, amidst local law enforcement crack-downs and mounting fines, the road travelled by London UberX drivers is becoming financially treacherous, and according to some city officials, with no turnaround anytime soon.
Last week, London Police Service launched Project Licensed Ride, an enforcement blitz that catches commercially unlicensed drivers and fines them for violating municipal bylaws. UberX drivers, the on-demand chauffeurs of the app-based ridesharing service, were the first to feel the program’s sting. During a two-day period, 18 of the UberX drivers racked up 29 fines totalling around $500 each.
The problem, according to London’s chief municipal law enforcement officer Orest Katolyk, is that UberX drivers are breaching London’s taxi and limousine licensing bylaw. In order for commercial drivers to lawfully cruise in the Forest City, they must have commercial insurance, a license, conduct a training exam and divulge any criminal record and medical issues. In addition, drivers’ vehicles must be no older than three years and have interior security cameras.
UberX drivers on the other hand, are bound by less severe stipulations. Drivers must use a four door car, but from 2005 to present (in most cities). They also pass a background and driving record check, but can hold personal driving insurance — no commercial insurance necessary.
It’s breaking local bylaws coupled with breaching provincial acts that lands UberX drivers in fiscally hot water, said Katolyk.
“If you get caught with driving an unlicensed vehicle for hire, the city fines can total $2,400 plus victim surcharges,” he said. “[For] provincial fines, it’s a violation of the Highway Traffic Act, and that fine is $300 plus the victim surcharge.”
Katolyk added under the Ontario Insurance Act, the consequences of giving false information or failing to disclose a material fact to the insurance provider can result in a fine of up to $250,000 maximum for a first offense and up to $500,000 for subsequent offenses.
Tickets alone, however, may not be enough to deter many UberX drivers. Gustavo Garcia, a London UberX driver, is confident Uber will support its drivers until Canadian legislature gets with the times and adapts to technological progress.
“In case I get [a ticket] Uber will pay for it, 100 per cent … They have done it before in Toronto,” Garcia said, adding Uber communicated this promise to him at meetings he attended with the technology company.
“They’re working on the regulations in London, I have heard from all over the other cities, they are having problems but they prevail,” he said. “I think the government wants a share of it, so they’re going to try to do anything they can to break it down.”
Many of Garcia’s sentiments are echoed by Uber Canada. The technology company defends its company’s business model as distinct from a taxi brokerage and deserving of new regulations and bylaw adaptions.
Uber announced it will be working with Intact Financial, an auto insurance provider, to develop an insurance plan specifically tailored for ridesharing in Canada.
But it could be a while, regardless of adequate insurance or not, for London legislators to give ridesharing the green light, warned Katolyk.
“[The bylaws] were just revamped two years ago in 2012. We had approximately 15 reports and … bylaws went through two court challenges and the city was successful.”
In the meantime, Katolyk urges the estimated 50,000 returning students — Uber’s target user demographic — to veer away from Uber, and instead download a local taxi company’s app to catch a ride that’s safe and legal.
“Enforcement repercussions on the passengers are nil; however, the personal risk repercussions are quite high,” Katolyk said. “All of our cabs and limousines are licensed. They all have cameras, so should there be an illegal activity in the vehicle, you’re on film — that’s not the case with unlicensed vehicles.”
My daughter is getting married in B.C. and many guests are coming from Europe. I’ve spent several days trying to determine what insurance is provided by the rental company. I did not expect it to be a nightmare . Having talked to Enterprise, Avis Canada and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), I’m totally confused as to what is included. The IBC says cars come with a minimum of $200,000 third party liability insurance and some companies have $1-million. The rental companies say absolutely no insurance is provided and renters need to buy their collision damage waiver (CDW), third party liability and personal accident insurance at the counter. — Mick, Vancouver
“The customer is usually responsible for the full value of the rented automobile regardless of fault,” says Craig Hirota, Member Services Manager with the Association of Canadian Car Rental Operators (ACCRO) in an email. “Plus additional costs such as loss of use, administrative fees, diminishment of value, tow and storage fees, etc.”
The only thing included with a car rental is the mimimum $200,000 third party liability required by law in B.C. for all vehicles. It covers you for up to the limit if you’re at fault in an accident that caused property damage, injury or death. But it doesn’t cover damages to the car.
For a daily charge — on Avis’s website, it starts at $29 — car companies offer damage waivers that cover all, or part, of the costs of damage to a rental vehicle.
But you might not need to buy that waiver if you have enough insurance coverage with your credit card to cover the cost of the rental car — as long as you used that card to pay for the rental. Not all credit cards automatically cover rental car damage.
You might also have coverage for Canada and U.S. rentals with your Canadian car insurance. For example, in B.C. some Insurance Corporation of British Columbia policies offer rental car insurance automatically — and you can also purchase it when you need it for $10. But only if you’re a resident.
You’ll notice we’re using the word might — you’ll have to check with the rental company, your credit card company and your insurance company to see exactly what you’re covered for.
“Typically, personal auto policies from Europe may not transfer to a rental vehicle — therefore, any damage or loss of the rental vehicle is the customer’s responsibility.” says Lisa A. Martini, spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings, which owns National, Enterprise and Alamo. “The European renter is protected for damages or injuries caused to someone else or someone else’s property at a minimum of $200,000 per occurrence.”
Damage to a rental vehicle might also be covered by travel insurance.
Renting and raving
Even if you buy the damage waiver, you could still be on the hook for repairs. In B.C., there were reports Budget charged renters for repairs even though they’d purchased loss damage waivers. In one case, the waiver was voided because the renter broke the law — he got a traffic ticket in a collision. It was all there in the fine print.
Enterprise’s Martini says the waiver is “subject to the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.”
“Read the fine print,” she says.
Rental companies also sell supplemental liability protection (SLP), personal accident insurance (PAI) and personal effects coverage (PEC).
SLP gives you extra liability coverage. For example, a Budget Avis Group spokesperson said their B.C. cars come with $1-million in third party liability but renters can purchase an extra $4-million in coverage.
PAI covers you if you’re injured or killed in accident. PEC covers some personal belongings.
Again, you might already have coverage for both of these in your existing travel or home insurance.
“It’s really important to do your research ahead of time — there’s not much time to decide when you’re there,” says John Karapita, director of public affairs for the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. “That’s why its important to be armed with this information.”
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