London City Council now has an Uber taxi problem on their hands.
14 months after Uber first arrived in the Forest City, taxi drivers say they’ve had enough. On Monday the London Taxi Association announced that it would not be paying the yearly licensing fee for 2017.
The fee is $750 and is paid by about 450 members of the taxi association which totals more than $330,000.
Ward 7 councillor Josh Morgan told AM980 city council needs to make a decision on how to manage Uber in the city soon but until then they need to make sure everyone plays by the rules.
“Enforcing our bylaws is one of the key things that municipalities need to do. If we don’t enforce them adequately and we allow people to operate illegally, this is the type of thing that happens. Other people in the space say it’s not fair and they start to take their own actions.”
Last year councillor Morgan introduced a motion to add money to bylaw enforcement, which was voted down by council.
Earlier this year, London’s bylaw enforcement office announced about two dozen Uber drivers had been charged and 36 offences had been handed out.
A spokesperson for London’s bylaw enforcement office said they would review the information and come up with a plan.
“We have to engage with the stakeholders and see if everybody can just step back. We need people to follow the rules, I know councillor (Stephen) Turner has expressed in meetings the frustration that I’ve expressed and that is to now follow the rules and that is unacceptable.”
On Monday, LTA spokesperson Roger Caranci said he was fed up with taxis having to compete with Uber, despite a bylaw prohibiting the service from operating legally in London.
“City council asked Uber on three separate occasions to stop operating until they were regulated. Uber thumbed their nose at a legitimately elected government that sets rules and regulations in the City of London and the City allowed them to continue doing that. So we’re frustrated.”
When asked if London taxi drivers could be ticketed by not paying their licensing fees, Caranci said that was a risk they were willing to take.
“We would hope that the City would understand our plight and would hold off until decisions are made, and this council finally gets rules and regulations in place to regulate Uber,” he said.
Council has yet to make a final decision about the popular ride-sharing app, though they have taken steps towards regulation rather than prohibition.
In late July, councillors voted to stop looking at banning surge pricing and mandating in-car cameras.
The contentious issue will go to a public participation meeting set for October.
Ward 4 Councillor Jesse Helmer, who has been firm in his support of Uber, said the bylaw should be enforced, even with the taxi association deciding to put themselves in danger of being charged.
“I think the most important thing is that they’re deciding, just like Uber has been not following our bylaw, to also not follow our bylaw. So we’re getting into a state where more and more people are flouting the rules that we already have in place in the City of London, which I think is regrettable.”
Councillor Turner made his opinion known on twitter writing, “disappointing to see a former cllr supporting breaching the bylaw, too.”
Edmonton became the first city in Canada to legalize the service by creating a new category for ride-sharing companies back in June.