60,000 Ubers cruising empty 40% of the time represent 95% of these vehicles
Following is the transcript of Kristine Hubbard’s September 21st deputation to Toronto’s Economic Development Committee. Taxi News will share transcripts of additional deputations in the days ahead.
Thanks so much. My name is Kristine Hubbard. I’m an operations manager with Beck Taxi; thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today.
For decades, the City of Toronto has leaned on private citizens, largely immigrants to pay for the creation and maintenance of a for hire vehicle system that would provide the service levels that a city like ours needs.
There was a limit on the number of vehicles insured high enough service levels, while also ensuring that drivers could make a living wage to manage impacts on traffic and congestion and clean air. Bi-annual vehicle inspections at the city run industry funded inspection center ensured proper maintenance and supported environmental goals.
Later, environmental restrictions were applied to all for hire vehicles. Only certain lightweight, fuel efficient or hybrid vehicles were acceptable to carry paying passengers. Right now, 3000 taxis that are operating in the city of Toronto 40 per cent of them are hybrids.
In 2016, all of this was cancelled. The inspection facility was closed at the request of no one except maybe Uber. Environmental restrictions for vehicles were removed. And at the same time, 100,000 cars and trucks were invited to cruise our city streets, creating one of the largest most precarious workforces likely in our history: more cars, core drivers, worse traffic, more pollution.
Now, this city wants to precarious workforce it created to pay for its own poor Environmental Policy over the past eight years. According to this proposal, we will raise the cost of licensing fees for drivers in order to pay those drivers. That’s not a grant.
As well, with the lack of clear targets and realistic timelines will likely end up moving the goalposts maybe another seven years, which is happening in London right now, losing out on meaningful reduction in emissions.
There are 60,000 Uber vehicles cruising empty 40% of the time, they represent 95% of the vehicles we’re talking about today. All given the green light to clog our streets with traffic and air quality. Concerns had already been raised for years, between going backwards when it comes to environmental policy in 2016, and the start of thousands of vehicle replacements.
As of 2025, we’ve lost a decade of any kind of environmental policy opportunities or progress. We’ve lost any of the good work that was started. There’s a lesson here and we don’t need to look at failed or rollback blanket regulations resulting from reports like this in the past to understand the problems with this particular proposal.
The vehicles are unavailable, we don’t have public charging stations. And right now, it is impossible, IMPOSSIBLE to get insurance for an electric vehicle to be used as a taxicab.
If that wasn’t enough, we learned from staff hosted consultations where all of the just mentioned issues were explicitly discussed, that this kind of plan really works best when drivers have single family homes and can install chargers in their houses. Is this the demographic we’re talking about? Drivers with single family homes?
Let’s talk about the environment in 2030 Should every one of these 60,000 Plus cars, including every Corolla, or Camry, which are both lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicles approved for use when we did have environmental mandates, that throwing away these assets, dumping cars or selling them to buy more cars makes sense from an environmental perspective? Absolutely not.
A look at tailpipe emissions only is not how to approach environmental policy. Unlimited drivers means unlimited vehicles right now. This is not good environmental policy.
We all want a greener fleet. I live here. I like clean air. We have always supported fact based logical policy that has a chance of becoming reality. What this report provides is the opportunity for an industry to do is rooted in impossibilities.
We need a measured approach that guarantees success a step at a time. You can’t have people buying vehicles while you’re monitoring whether or not they’ll have the charging stations to charge them.
We need to guarantee success one step at a time so that drivers will be able to invest in and it will allow vehicle for hire drivers to continue to meet the needs of a city like Toronto.
We need to see benchmark progress with the ability to purchase, insure and charge these vehicles before moving ahead on the backs of already vulnerable workers. If we’re being serious, and we’re looking for the impact of the vehicle for hire industry in the environment to be reduced, we need detailed, realistic phased in approach that is fair: taking into consideration for the vehicles that have to be replaced in the next 18-24 months and what 2030 means for those people.
There has to be a plan for implementation, one that is possible.