After a bitter meeting two years ago, when council requested that Uber cease operations in Brampton, city staff have finally drafted a new bylaw that would apply to any Private Transportation Company (PTC), informally known as “ridesharing” companies, operating in the city.
The new bylaw would be an amendment to the existing rules regarding transportation, establishing companies like Uber, Lyft, and anyone else into a new, separate PTC category. The by-law will be presented to Committee of Council on June 20, as a public meeting item.
City by-law officers have taken measures to fine companies like Uber and Lyft over the past two years, and the result is city staff sees that continuing to enforce existing by-laws is a waste of time and money to the city.
The city also found there were no complaints from the public on Uber and others. The data provided by PTCs and taxi companies indicates that similar numbers of riders are using the services and that the latter is likely not losing a lot of customers to PTC companies.
The new schedule specifically for PTCs would loosen certain rules that taxicabs and limos have to abide by, like wheelchair accessibility and in-vehicle cameras for security.
The accessibility community in Brampton and elsewhere have argued that apps like Uber can be more accessible than traditional taxi services, thanks to the accessibility functions on most modern smartphones that allow communications between riders and drivers. Uber drivers will be required to carry assistive devices in the trunk of their vehicle, in addition to transporting service animals. If they can’t carry a wheelchair user, they will be required to redirect to a service that can.
Brampton Transit is also exploring reviving “dial-a-bus” service and partnering with PTC companies like Uber to service low-density and/or low ridership areas.
Other rules will be implemented. While taxi drivers will be able to work 60 hours over a week, PTC drivers will be limited to working 24 hours per week. PTC vehicles will only be allowed to be seven years old, and anonymous rides, such as street hails, won’t be allowed. PTC drivers will have to have $5 million Commercial + $2 million Auto Insurance.
Each PTC company (Uber, Lyft, etc) will be required to pay an annual $20,000 licensing fee. Additionally, they will have to pay 30 cents for every trip that originates in Brampton. This could net the city $450,000 per year with existing numbers. Fares won’t be set by the city, and there won’t be a restriction on “surge” pricing (when fares are increased during busy times like rush hour or weekend late nights).
The Taxicab Committee reviewed the by-law at a meeting in late May, though with quorum not being met (half the committee did not show up) no formal recommendations were made.
The city intends to test out the new by-law amendment and report back in a year to add any modifications. The city will hire six staff members on a contract basis to administer and enforce the new by-law.
The pre-Committee report on the new by-law can be seen at this link on page 9.
This specific item will be treated as an open public meeting report, where anyone can show up and speak for or against the item, during the June 20 Committee of Council Meeting at 9:30 a.m. in Boardroom WT-2C/D in the West Tower.