Q: The new Uber ride-sharing service has made itself a Campaign Issue as much by the timing of its arrival in The Capital as by its portents for the Taxi Industry, OC Transpo ridership and the City’s licensing machine. What’s your position?
A: “The uber upset in the Ottawa Taxi Industry over the new Uber ride sharing system seems to me to be all Crocodile Tears. And the official uproar at City Hall over ‘non-licensed taxis’ is just a nod to the power of the local taxi service hegemony,” Ottawa Mayoral Candidate Darrell Duck asserts.
“Of course, the City administration loathes anything it deems in need of paying licensing fees that is getting away without tithing more than Nature abhors a vacuum. ‘If we declare Uber a taxi service, we can get money from people!’ the bean counters speculate, with glee. The thing is, Uber is not a taxi service. It’s ride-sharing. And Ride-Sharing is something the City has officially approved of in the past, especially during Transpo strikes – when it was popular for the administrators and especially for the politicians to approve of it.”
“The controversy is all centred on the money issue. The Taxi Barons feel slighted that they might be losing business over Uber and the licensing people feel justified in hammering Uber drivers because they are accepting gas money in return offering rides. The bean counters, however, are reaching for something that I believe will ultimately prove beyond their grasp. They contend that private cars are not properly licensed, safety-inspected or insured to take paying riders. The truth is, OC Transpo is terrified at the potential loss of fare revenues if people choose the comfort of private cars over the morning and afternoon mayhem of the buses. God forbid, people might even save money using Uber compared to buying a bus pass!”
“Now… What about the office crowd from Barrhaven who have ride-shared for years on a similar basis to Uber-ing? They share expenses and I’ve never heard of anyone in a car-pooling group complaining. On the contrary, they tend to gloat about the money they save and all the meaningful work they get done on their commute. If they’re all from the same department, they can actually get in the first meeting of the day while sitting in the Drive Thru line at Timmy’s! And that’s just the tip of the Car-pooling Benefit iceberg.”
“And ride-sharing potentially keeps three out of four rush hour cars off the road. Imagine what the Queensway would be like at 8:30 in the morning and 4:30 in the afternoon if people didn’t ride-share!”
“Bottom line: Ottawa Taxi Royalty needs to back off the Sheriff of Nottingham thing and leave the ride-sharing Robin Hoods alone. And the politicians need to state openly and honestly whether they are in favour of ride sharing or not!”