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Pause in licensing new drivers until training is launched passed by Licensing Committee

Toronto cancelled its Taxi driver training program in 2016, but is now reinstating it. Photo: Unsplash

Toronto Council’s decision to pause issuing new license to rideshare drivers until its mandated training program is implemented was supported at the November 30 Licensing Committee meeting.

The motion as passed requires that all vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company driver training include in-car examinations and that acknowledgement and a training credit be provided for drivers previously trained by the City’s training program.

Item GL27.19 was debated by General Government and Licensing Committee and was adopted with amendments. It will be considered by City Council on December 15, 2021.

While speakers Jake Brockman from Uber Canada and Andrew Murie of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) offered deputations warning that pausing licensing of new rideshare drivers would increase wait times for passengers during the holiday season, Councillor Wong-Tam pointed out that at six minutes, their standard for service is equal to or faster than the service standard for ambulances.

“To meet that standard of service, essentially, every vehicle on the roads would need to be an rideshare or a taxi,” points out Dr. James Cooper, Director of Transport Research Services of Austin, Texas.

Dr. Cooper was part of the Taxi Research Partners team which was contracted to conduct a major assessment of Toronto’s Taxi service in 2013, and which found Toronto had an appropriate number of licensed Taxis at approximately 5500 (currently, Toronto has about 47,000 rideshare drivers and about 7,500 licensed Taxi drivers, for a total of roughly 10 times as many drivers as in 2013).

Dr. James Cooper

The training portion of the motion proposed by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was amended and passed:

“That the General Government and Licensing Committee recommend that:

1. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to report to the meeting of City Council on December 15 and 16, 2021 with recommendations on potential refinements to the new driver training program in regards to:

a. requiring that all vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company driver training be provided through existing, accredited, public institutions and include in-car examinations;

b. providing acknowledgement and a training credit for drivers previously trained by the City’s training program;

c. providing drivers who are currently licensed to operate but who have not received training top priority for the new training program; and

d. including education on sexual assault and harassment prevention.

Item GL27.19 included these additional key points:

Councillor Wong-Tam
  • the temporary 75 percent reduction on the Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Fund Program regulatory charges will be maintained in 2022;
  • a vehicle for hire working group will be established to look at opportunities for electric vehicles;
  • chapter 546 of the municipal code will be amended with new requirements for PTC driver applications, and licensing fees and charges.

Following the vote, RideFairTO tweeted “We’d like to thank the General Government & Licensing Committee chaired by Councillor Ainslie for moving the City forward towards a safer environment for PTC drivers and all road users. A big thank you also to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam for her leadership and courage.”

Click here to read the entire Motion passed by Licensing Committee November 30, 2021

Motions

a – Motion to Amend Item (Additional) moved by Councillor Paul Ainslie (Carried)

That the General Government and Licensing Committee recommend that:

1. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to report to the meeting of City Council on December 15 and 16, 2021 with recommendations on potential refinements to the new driver training program in regards to:

a. requiring that all vehicle-for-hire and private transportation company driver training be provided through existing, accredited, public institutions and include in-car examinations;

b. providing acknowledgement and a training credit for drivers previously trained by the City’s training program;

c. providing drivers who are currently licensed to operate but who have not received training top priority for the new training program; and

d. including education on sexual assault and harassment prevention.

2. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to establish a working group with representatives from across the taxi sector to understand and address any issues with data collection and submission.

3. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to review the feasibility of freezing fees for the drivers currently not working due to the drop in ridership demand caused by the pandemic and to report the recommendations to the January 14, 2022 meeting of the General Governance and Licensing Committee.

4. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to require all Vehicle-for-Hire companies to submit comprehensive fare information to the city, including rate per ride and distance travelled, and the surge multiplier applied to both passenger fares and driver compensation.

5. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to provide anonymized data to the public through the City of Toronto’s Open Data Portal, such as provided by New York City and Chicago to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and improve road safety, for all Vehicle-for-Hire trips, including time spent and distance travelled on each trip, by driver, with fares, broken down into the following but not limited to categories:

a. cruising;

b. en route; and

c. passenger transportation portions, and closest pick up and drop off intersections as provided by the city.

6. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to report back to Council in the First Quarter of 2022 with a plan for implementation and enforcement of the updated by-law to ensure compliance and the promotion of Vision Zero and road safety.

7. City Council direct the General Manager, Transportation Services to develop a framework for the vehicle-for-hire sector, supported by an independent report, to maximize the efficiency of the sector by matching active vehicles in service with demand, and balancing public policy priorities, including customer service, economic impacts on drivers, impacts on public transit, efforts to reduce traffic volumes, City policies such as TransformTO, ActiveTO, VisionZero, and our greenhouse gas reduction targets, and this framework therefore shall include, but not be limited to:

a. public availability and competitive impacts across transportation sectors;

b. equity and accessibility;

c. measurement and optimisation of service for disabled passengers;

d. environmental impacts, including environmental policies and imperatives, such as the congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and barrier impacts of transport provision;

e. safety impacts, including but not limited to public safety, individual pedestrian, driver and road user incident costs, and any mitigation thereto; and

f. any direct and associated socio-economic impacts, including the societal cost and benefits of such provision, as may include potential for and avoidance of monopolistic or anti-trust abuses as may result from excess market access, and/or uncontrolled pricing.

8. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, to include in this framework, recommendations on the feasibility of applying a ratio of 1 vehicle to 100 population currently used in New York City with the fleet size being reached through attrition rather than driver deactivations.

9. City Council direct the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the General Manager, Transportation Services to partner with the Toronto Transit Commission to study the impact of ride-hailing services on public transit, which builds on the City’s 2019 report “The Transportation Impacts of Vehicle-for-Hire in the City of Toronto” and specifically studies:

a. rides lost annually to ride-hailing since 2014;

b. ride loss projections based on:

i. anticipated growth of ride-hailing; and

ii. changing rider concerns during and after the pandemic;

c. the corresponding impact on fare revenue and, therefore, the Toronto Transit Commission operating budget;

d. changes to traffic congestion, vehicle kilometres travelled (including commuting, cruising, on route and in-service time) by Private Transportation Company vehicles and corresponding effect on Toronto Transit Commission surface transit caused by the growth of ride-hailing apps;

e. strategies and solutions to remain competitive in the mobility ecosystem when coming up against ride hailing companies; and

f. the potential synergies with ride hailing companies that could drive mutual economic benefits.

b – Motion to Amend Item moved by Councillor Paul Ainslie (Carried)

That:

1. Recommendations 2, 3, and 4 in the report (November 16, 2021) from the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, be amended to read as follows:

“2. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with the Interim Director, Environment and Energy and The Atmospheric Fund, to establish a Vehicle-for-Hire group, under the already established Electric Vehicle Working Group, that brings relevant stakeholders together to develop a strategy to accelerate emissions reductions and electrification of the vehicle-for-hire industry, including considerations for equity and potential implementation challenges for any proposed advice; the results of this work shall be considered by the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards as an input to the development of any requirements or programs that seek to reduce emissions in the Vehicle-for-Hire industry.

3. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to set a goal of Net Zero for 2030 for vehicles for hire, and to align the plans for vehicle electrification and emissions reduction to achieve this goal.

4. City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to report back in the First Quarter 2023 on recommended bylaw updates and complementary programs to achieve the vehicle electrification and emissions reductions targets for the vehicle-for-hire industry, including outcomes of the proposed Vehicle-for-Hire group under the Electric Vehicle Working Group, and results of the third-party vehicle-for-hire emissions study, with implementation beginning by the end of 2023.”

Motion to Adopt Item as Amended moved by Councillor Paul Ainslie (Carried)