Uber Solution not the Only Problem in Ottawa
What a stink one boot leg cab company has made world wide. By managing to convince moronic city councilors that Uber is a tech company as opposed to just another taxi service is brilliant on their part.
Lets compare apples to apples. Under the Uber argument, they are not a taxi because they use an app instead of a two way radio to dispatch their drivers. By that way of thinking a drug dealer can open a store front and claim he is now a pharmacy because he changed the way he/she dispenses the illegal drugs.
Obviously the only thing different between Uber and every other taxi service is the dispatch method and that does not make you different. Whether you dispatch drivers using smoke signals, two way radio, cell phone or cell phone app, you are still in fact dispatching a car/van/truck to pick up a customer who will pay for a ride somewhere. Further, Uber is nothing more than a company set up as a tax dodge. It make millions of dollars a week in North America alone and pays no federal, provincial/sate or local taxes. All money made and paid out is done through an offshore account. Even the drivers do not pay taxes, or even get T4 to show the income they have made through bootleg cab service. That is a whole lot of illegal operation happening there.
I asked Revenue Canada why no one has bothered to investigate the fact that Uber funnels it's money out of the country avoiding taxes and they tell me they are already looking into the matter. So it remains to be seen if they are operating legit or are in fact a tax dodge set up to get rich off of idiot officials who can't tell the difference between a legit company and someone swindling them to avoid paying all the expenses that go along with being a legal cab service.
But the fact that Uber is here at all is the fault of the taxi companies themselves and the city of Ottawa.
By restricting the number of taxi plate tags in the city, they allowed a new business to blossom. One where a small handful buy everything up and hold the tags ransom for large dollars. And with the city not bothering to address taxi regulations for the better part of twenty years or more, the industry has had a stranglehold on the citizens of Ottawa. Limited tags have led to a monopoly of sorts.
On the taxi end of things, old cars, rude drivers and greed have made Ottawa an easy target for Uber and other "Ride Shares" waiting for Uber to con everyone into thinking they are legit. When I ran for Mayor, I received many complaints about the taxi industry. Some complained because the city won't issue unlimited plates, if they wanted to get into the cab business legitimately they would have to pay a ridiculous sum to a current plate owner. Others have complained the entire taxi service in Ottawa, as well as other cities is racist and don't hire outside of their ethnic community. No whites, blacks or Asians driving in Ottawa. Where Uber don't discriminate and anyone can drive for them.
How to solve the Uber problem, easy...
1) City issues a plate for anyone that meets the regulations, thereby ending the ransom current plate holders have on the available tags
2) Make plates renewably annually as well as car inspection with all fees paid into the city coffers
3) All drivers must be city licensed, including knowledge of the city. Cab drivers in Ottawa are one of the many ambassadors for Ottawa
4) City needs to recognize that the dispatch method of a company does not change what kind of company it is
5) Set age limit of the cars used in the taxi service
By following these five simple steps the city will rid itself of Uber and any other Ride Share waiting in the wings as they have no desire to be legit and pay commercial insurance and taxes.
Not a solution that makes everyone happy, but it should would make it more fair.
Alternativly the taxi industry could just close up and reopen as a Ride Share company and save itself a ton of money on insurance, taxes and other operating costs. Then everyone is happier, the city gets poorer than Watson is alreay making it and everyone wins... except the good people of Ottawa who are stuck in the middle.