Uber wants virtual training only for vehicle for hire drivers in Toronto: FOI documents

In a document obtained by Taxi News through a Freedom of Information request, Uber tells Toronto licensing staff if wants to see virtual training for vehicle for hire drivers. Photo: City of Toronto

Uber Canada has expressed its desire to see Toronto’s new vehicle for hire driver training be delivered completely online.

In correspondence obtained November 19th through Freedom of Information (FOI), Taxi News has learned that Uber’s stated desire for the training program for Toronto drivers is limited to “virtual training” with no in-car or in-class component.   

Uber’s preference is in sharp contrast with the position maintained by Taxi industry members who believe in-car training is essential.

“In-car training and testing is absolutely necessary. The entire basis of this job is safe driving. Customer service doesn’t matter, if you are dead,” says Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager at Beck Taxi. “In-classroom and in-car training require a commitment to safe driving and professionalism which online simply does not.”

On May 26th, Uber Canada’s General Manager Matthew Price wrote L&S Executive Director Carleton Grant an email letter which stated:

In order to provide certainty to PTCs, drivers, and potential training providers, Uber would like to suggest the following timeline for the Driver Training Accreditation Program:

● City of Toronto approves training providers who are able to offer high-quality, virtual training by July 1, 2021.

● Accredited training providers are mandated to have a virtual course accessible to participants by September 1, 2021.

● Drivers who have not held a PTC or taxi licence will be required to provide proof of this training from November 1, 2021 onward.

● Drivers who currently hold or have held a PTC licence will be required to provide evidence of training in a City-approved third-party program on their PTC renewal date in 2022.

Uber would be pleased to work with the City on details of the implementation plan, including how best to communicate this to new and currently licensed drivers. By working together, we will be able to roll out this important initiative in a safe and efficient manner.

Thank you for your ongoing collaboration and please let me know if you would like to discuss this further or require any additional information from Uber.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Price

General Manager

Uber Canada

cc: Luke Robertson, Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor

Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair, General Government and Licensing Committee

Tracey Cook, Deputy City Manager, Infrastructure & Development Services

Fiona Chapman, Director, Business Licensing and Regulatory Services, Municipal Licensing”

A Request for Proposals (RFP) from interested training suppliers was posted online on November 9th. The RFP invites proposals which include “one or a combination of approaches: classroom, in-car, online.”

Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam

In her October 20 deputation to the General Government and Licensing Committee,  Hubbard told Councillors: “We have tons of steel being operated on busy streets, approaching curbside, responding to communication devices, attending to strangers in the backseat, assisting with mobility devices, navigating traffic and congestion.

“That is the nightmare we’re living in this city right now. But drivers are making money doing those things, and they should be trained.”

The Licensing and Standards division is expected to release a status report on the vehicle for hire industry the week of November 22nd; the report is scheduled to be considered by Toronto Council on November 30th.

On November 10th, Toronto Council voted to support a Motion by Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam to direct staff to stop issuing licenses to vehicle for hire drivers until a training program is in place.