Monday, July 15, 2024
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Sleepy rideshare drivers a safety issue: caller

Low earnings means long hours for exhausted drivers

Rideshare drivers who must drive up to 20 hours per day to make a living are a real safety issue, staff heard on the Private Transportation Company (PTC) consultation.

Omar, one of the participants on the final session of Toronto’s Vehicle for Hire on June 25th, identified two issues which he described as being “serious safety issues;” the first was drivers earning so little money for their work that they work up to 10 hours per day for two different PTCs.

“They can fall asleep in the car, at a stop sign,” Omar told the City staff.

The second safety issue he identified was licensing of thousands of international students who are new drivers and do not know the city.

“The US and the UK, they do not allow international students to drive rideshare,” Omar noted, to the consternation of facilitator Natalie Barcellos, who twice shut down concerns about international students as professional drivers by insisting callers could not complain about “identifiable groups.”

Participants on the PTC call were consistent in thanking organizers and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to express their concerns. “I really like this call,” one of the final callers, Mo, complimented staff.

While poverty-level driver earnings were the most prevalent topic brought up by callers, rideshare drivers also noted they want Toronto to issue one transferrable licence which would permit them to drive for any company.

“We get kicked off the app for any reason,” described driver Johnny. “If we tell passengers that they cannot smoke, they cannot drink, they must have a car seat in order to transport children – when we say ‘no,’ they give us one star. We have no recourse.”

Having the City set one rate for drivers based on time and distance would also be preferrable to many of the participants who took part in the consultation.

“There is nothing transparent about Uber’s rate,” explained Kumar. “You can’t figure it out. The driver sees one number, the passenger sees another number.” He was among several drivers who pointed out that while Uber took 20 per cent of their fees when it first arrived in Toronto, it is now taking up to 28 per cent of every trip.

Limiting or capping the number of rideshare vehicles on the road was supported by almost all speakers, with one exception being a driver who was not able to get a license during the temporary cap in fall 2023 and felt that was unfair. Multiple speakers pointed out that the fact that they sit empty more than half of the time waiting for a fare and they would like to see fewer PTCs cruising; one woman suggested that all drivers should be full-time as a way of reducing the number of drivers.

The concept that many, if not most, of the issues Rideshare drivers would like to see Toronto regulate were in fact the reality of the Taxi industry before the advent of Uber and Lyft was not discussed.