• Wed. May 18th, 2022

Outspoken taxi manager says City of Toronto ‘terrorizing’ taxi drivers

Toronto’s taxi industry has been in decline since the arrival of ride-sharing app Uber a decade ago, but an outspoken taxi executive hasn’t given up her fight against a service she says , is not held to the same standards as licensed taxis. And that fight has been particularly heated this week.

Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager at Beck Taxi Limitedhas been campaigning against Uber and similar apps like Lyft since day one, and its latest salvo came straight at the city in the form of a Twitter feed with some pretty bold accusations.

In one tweet shared on tuesdayHubbard started the thread with some pointed words, saying “the city of Toronto is terrorizing taxi drivers” through a combination of what she claims is a convoluted process to renew rental vehicle driver’s licenses applied to drivers. taxis, but not those who operate ride-sharing vehicles.

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blogTO contacted Hubbard for a better understanding of the problem to be solved. She says things have only gotten harder for drivers since the pandemic. While the city has created a digital portal to manage taxi license renewals, Hubbard says the process is opaque and complex for drivers to follow compared to the old, in-person paper system.

“You’re going to create a digital portal, but you have no way to connect with these people electronically to provide a link or give instructions, so this town has never tried,” Hubbard says.

In a recent case, Hubbard claims a retired taxi plate owner — no longer driving — was told by mail that he needed to update his insurance or have his license suspended. “There’s no insurance if there’s no vehicle, but they still don’t understand that,” Hubbard says.

Hubbard suggests this may not have been an accident on the city’s part, stating “it’s almost like it’s meant to confuse, it’s meant to be more difficult.”

Going further, she says taxis are being targeted by the city in retaliation for the industry’s backlash against Uber and similar apps, specifically a private member’s motion tabled in city council in late 2021 that targeted to suspend the rental of new vehicles. license until a driver training accreditation program is established.

She says it looks like the city is going after the industry after being called out by taxi operators like Hubbard in the motion, for not following its own rules and creating a sloping playing field in favor of apps. carpooling.

Hubbard doesn’t mince words in his criticism of the politicians in charge, saying “Mayor Tory has called the taxi industry a dinosaur. The fact is, the only dinosaurs in this town are in City Hall.”

Stressing that people of color in the taxi industry have been “disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” Hubbard calls for the licensing system to be “reformed, simplified and communicated” to drivers.

“As I say these words to you, I have to wonder who is going to read this and what are they going to do to me,” Hubbard said, adding, “but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing they can do. worse than what they have already done.”

A city spokesperson told blogTO that Toronto “understands that times have been incredibly difficult for the taxi industry and for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and we have worked hard to ensure support is available. during the pandemic and beyond”.

The spokesperson points out that, last year, “the City extended the grace period for license renewal from 90 days to 150 days and waived all late fees, to support businesses during the pandemic. of COVID-19,” adding that it also extended the maximum vehicle age for an additional two years, reduced regulatory fees and registration fees, and gave owners an additional year to pay outstanding 2020 fees. .

An online licensing portal was launched at the start of the pandemic, and the city says it has “processed thousands of new or renewed business licenses.”

But there is an obvious beef on both sides in this dispute, with the city’s statement casting a shadow over the taxi industry, saying “while we are sympathetic and aware that not everyone is embracing technology “, there are tools in place to “allow people to interact with the city 24/7.”

Hubbard adds that people often try to claim that taxi plate owners made a bad investment, but she points out that “it’s not in the stock market. The city said, ‘we’ll make sure nobody can do this job unless he follows the same rules that you follow. And then one day, I decided ‘actually, who cares'”.

So yeah, a lot of shots were fired today.