Uber approaching one year street legal in Ottawa
It has been almost one year since Uber received its “private transportation company” license from the City of Ottawa making its vehicles and drivers legal on city streets.
The popular ride-sharing company hit Ottawa roads in October 2014, operating illegally until September 30th, 2016, when the city of Ottawa changed the taxi by-laws.
"There are obviously a lot of taxi drivers that are not happy with it because it has increased competition for them, but the reports I have heard back from our staff there has been good cooperation in terms of the accessibility fee that is going to be charged, registration and so on," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
Uber has conducted more than 1 million rides in the capital since last September and its popularity appears to be growing. According to the city of Ottawa, there are approximately 3,500 Private Transportation Company (PTC) drivers active in Ottawa operating with Uber and Testlift. There were roughly 1,500 active drivers when the city legalized Uber last September.
But taxi drivers have felt the pain. Individual licenses have reduced in value - at one point a plate was worth upwards of $300,000 - and so have overall incomes. Tony Chamoun has been driving a taxi in Ottawa for 25 years and said the years since Uber arrived have been his worst ever.
"On average, at least they took about 40 per cent of our business," he said. "We have to put in two or three hours a day extra."
Companies, like BlueLine, have created and updated cellphone applications to compete with Uber and are in the process of updating their fleets.
The union representing taxi drivers has also sued the city of Ottawa for allowing the ride-sharing company to disrupt the taxi business. Unifor and the city of Ottawa have a hearing date of September 21st, 2017.