Mississauga Debates Possible Restrictions on Uber

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While Uber is not yet legal in the city (but is no longer "banned" since council rescinded its demand that the company cease all operations in Mississauga), the municipality is working with the company and other TNCs (transportation network companies) to launch a ride sharing pilot program.

That said, things don't appear to be moving in an Uber-friendly direction.

According to a recent Mississauga News article, a staff report that was presented to the public vehicle pilot program committee (a group made up of city officials and TNC and taxi representatives) yesterday outlined recommendations that are, in a word, restrictive (at least for Uber).

The News reports that the recommendations include a cap of 47 registered TNC drivers, restricting TNCs to specific geographic areas that are underserviced (such as Malton) and imposing the same license requirements that traditional taxis and limos are mandated to abide by.

Chris Schafer, a public policy manager for Uber, told The News that, "no other pilot programs impose such restrictions on how TNCs operate. You'd be studying something that is no longer UberX."

Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who has been a careful but consistent advocate for incorporating TNCs into the city's transportation-for-hire framework, is encouraging the city to look to Toronto for guidance on the thorny matter.

"I want to look at the Toronto example because of consistency. People want seamless travel," she said, as reported by The News.

That said, other councillors appear either overwhelmed or unsure that Toronto's model can work in Mississauga. The News reports that Councillor Ron Starr wants a "Mississauga solution." Councillor Karen Ras compared the regulation struggles to "eating an elephant."

While it's unclear how Mississauga is fundamentally different from Toronto (in terms of Uber compatibility, at least) and therefore in need of a city-specific ride sharing framework, it is abundantly clear that council is still, at this juncture, unsure of how to proceed. It will indeed be difficult -- if not impossible -- to please both TNCs and the taxi industry. It's not an enviable task, but it is an important one.

Perhaps looking to Toronto might not be so bad. The city has been free of raucous should-we-or-shouldn't-we-legalize debates since May and the resolution (disputed though it may be) is, it seems, working well enough for the city.

While Uber is technically illegal in Mississauga (drivers can be fined for violating bylaws if caught), it continues to operate in the city.

The deadline for the formulation of the pilot program is June 29.

 

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