With the approval of new vehicle-for-hire regulations by City Council today, Ottawa has become one of the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt regulations for Private Transportation Companies. The City has also adopted a lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings.
“Today’s decision moves our transportation system in the right direction by challenging the status quo and opening up the market to competition,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Ottawa should be a place where people have access to safe, competitive, affordable, and effective transportation options.”
“I want to thank the more than 6,000 people who participated in consultations and helped us come up with a smart set of 21st century regulations,” said Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “Under the new rules, I have every confidence that the traditional taxi industry will change and succeed in this competitive environment.”
Effective September 30, 2016, a Private Transportation Company (PTC) that wishes to operate in the City of Ottawa would obtain an operating license similar to that of a taxi broker. Prior to commencing operations and on a regular basis thereafter, each PTC must supply to the City information about its drivers and their vehicles. This will include proof of police background checks, vehicle inspections, and proper insurance. PTCs will pay the same broker fee as traditional taxi companies, while also paying a comparable licensing fee on a per-ride basis.
The Community and Protective Services Committee met for 18 hours over two days last week to listen to public delegations and discuss the proposed changes. The Committee adopted 12 motions to amend the staff report, many of which were based on feedback received from the taxi industry. A further five motions were adopted by Council today. These changes addressed issues such as stronger oversight of PTCs, compliance, enforcement, accessibility, HST, and delaying the by-law implementation date by three months.
Through its new vehicle-for-hire regulations, the City of Ottawa has modernized regulations for the traditional taxi industry to allow it to compete more freely, while protecting key features on which residents have come to rely. The new features of the taxi regulations include:
- Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
- Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
- Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96)
- Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
- Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles
- Increasing maximum vehicle age from 8 to 10 years
- Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College
- Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept street-hails, together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes
- Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9-million annually
- Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app
The City of Ottawa will enforce the existing by-law until the new regulations come into effect on September 30, 2016.