Toronto halting new ride-hailing licences

Safety cited as city halts new licences in light of delayed implementation of new driver training program

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Directives to city staff to issue a moratorium on new licences for ride hailing and private transportation companies was approved by council on Wednesday — ahead of the adoption of a new driver training program.

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The motion, tabled by Coun. Krystin Wong-Tam, is centred around maintaining safety as plans to implement driver training was put on hold due to the pandemic.

“Under By-Law 1517-2019, the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards is required to establish a driver training accreditation program and, from June 1, 2020, require all drivers to have completed an accredited driver training course,” read the motion.

“Municipal Licensing and Standards continues to issue licences to drivers who have not completed a driver training course.”

Calls for mandatory training came after 28-year-old Nicholas Cameron was killed when the Uber car he’d hailed in March 2018 was struck after the driver stopped on the Gardiner Expressway to retrieve a dropped cell phone.

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Abdihared Bishar Mussa, 23, had only started driving for Uber two days before the crash.

Initially charged with criminal negligence causing death, Mussa plead guilty to careless driving , was fined $1,000 and handed a year-long driving ban.

“We passed the vehicle-for-hire bylaw back in 2019,” Wong-Tam said.

“It required drivers to meet certain obligations, and I don’t think that bylaw was repealed.”

Councillor Mike Layton mused that a contributing factor to Cameron’s death was council’s 2016 decision to remove mandatory training as part of its approval of ride-hailing in the city, and  challenged notions from other councilors that Toronto shouldn’t enter the driver training business.

“Prior to 2016, the city did that — I argued that we should keep that, but many of you voted against that,” he said.

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“This is un-doing a mistake.”

A statement sent to the Sun by Uber Canada spokesperson Zaitoon Murji said the company supports the training program, and urged the city to accelerate implementation during the pandemic.

“While we are heartened to see the program finally start to take shape, we are disappointed by Council’s decision to pause licensing in the interim,” the statement read.

“It is deeply unfair to punish the thousands of drivers who want to earn an income, and the hundreds of thousands of Torontonians who require a reliable rideshare service to help them get from point A to point B because of the City’s slow action.”

The motion passed 21 to two.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter:   @bryanpassifiume

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