More charges coming against Uber drivers as 4 head to court today
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:24PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 5, 2015 6:39PM EST
Uber announced some fare cuts today on the heels of a court case in Ottawa involving four Uber drivers. The four are the first to be fined, as the city cracks down on what it considers an illegal cab service. The head of Ottawa’s bylaw services says more fines are about to be laid.
Outside the provincial courthouse on Constellation Drive, Blueline cab drivers taxi for position, anxious to weigh in on a case they say will determine their livelihood.
‘This taxi company is an illegal taxi business,’ says Blueline driver Iskhak Mial, ‘It's not safe, so we're here to support the bylaw people who are fighting for these things.’
Uber, the American app-based transportation company, has quickly spread into the Canadian market. Ottawa is cracking down fining drivers because they don't have a taxi license. Susan Jones, the head of Bylaw Services with the City of Ottawa, confirmed that the city is preparing to lay at least 10 more charges against drivers within the coming weeks.
Stuart Huxley is the Senior Legal Counsel for the city of Ottawa, representing the city in court.
‘These tickets can, if there is a conviction, serve as a means of deterring others who are likeminded in trying to engage in similar conduct,’ says Huxley.
Four Ottawa drivers face the maximum penalty of $615 but they are contesting it. An hour after their case was adjourned for the day, Uber tweeted out a message announcing for the first time ever, it was cutting fares for a limited time in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.
The head of the Ottawa taxi drivers’ union, Amrik Singh, says that’s a deliberate attempt to fool the public.
‘They may have dropped (fare prices) but I know the situation when they have doubled their rates, even ten times their rates,’ says Amrik Singh, who attended today’s court case, ‘We can't do it because we follow the law.’
Uber is under assault in Montreal, where two drivers have had their cars impounded. And a class-action lawsuit has been launched against the company. In Ontario, two MPP's have introduced private members' bills that, if passed, would drastically toughen the fines for people driving bandit cabs.
Cab drivers are vocal in their opposition.
‘They are gypsies, an illegal taxi,’ says Dawit Tegegne.’
They are vowing to fight the company any way they can.
‘We will come (to court) until the judge tells them to stop their operation,’ vows Amrik Singh.
Today’s case was adjourned until February 19th.