Moving Toronto Forward

Look ahead, five years, to 2020.

Is Toronto a city that has embraced innovation to solve our biggest transportation challenges? Or have we fallen further behind because of regulatory inflexibility and political indecision?

This coming week, Toronto City Council will choose one of these paths in a vote that will greatly impact Toronto’s residents and visitors, and will be watched around the world.

By voting to adopt Recommendation #8 on ridesharing regulations, Council would accelerate Toronto down a path towards improved transportation. It’s the right choice for the future of our city, and here’s why.

Uber is an unprecedented jobs engine, generating more Canadian jobs in a shorter span than any other company in recent memory. In the GTA alone, 16,000 people have begun earning income as uberX drivers in the past year. We expect this number to exceed 40,000 in two years. Most of these people work part-time, with the average driver on the road for fewer than 10 hours per week, and that is exactly what makes these jobs so powerful. In a world where most families have some employment but need more money and are stretched for time, uberX enables drivers to earn crucial supplementary income with complete flexibility.

The creation of these jobs will not be a crisis for taxi drivers for three reasons. The first is that ridesharing grows the overall market enormously – by enticing drivers to switch from driving their own car, to on-demand transportation. The second is that ridesharing doesn’t compete over all the same territory as taxis. Ridesharing doesn’t allow street hails, for example. Go to any U.S. city where ridesharing is already regulated and thriving – which is nearly every major city – and taxi driver jobs still exist. Lastly, Uber creates more options for taxi drivers. Rather than facing inflexible 12-hour shifts dictated by a taxi garage, drivers now have the opportunity to chose between different driving options.

Uber is a crucial component of our transportation network. Voting against ridesharing regulations would take away a transportation option relied upon by over 400,000 Toronto riders; more people than drive on the Gardiner on a daily basis. These riders are choosing to use Uber – often instead of purchasing or a using their own car – because we have dramatically improved the reliability and efficiency of for-hire transportation. Uber employs hundreds of engineers to invest in subtle, yet groundbreaking technologies that reliably enable 3 minute arrival times across a city and improve safety and user experience.

The future of Toronto threatens to be one of constant congestion and gridlock as the city continues to grow up and out. As a technology company, we are developing a solution that can solve this: on-demand carpooling. Uber is solving our single occupancy vehicle problem by showing that carpooling can work on a massive scale; in less than a year since launching uberPOOL in San Francisco, already 50% of Uber riders opt for our carpooling option. But uberPOOL can only work in Toronto if the City embraces a modern regulatory framework.

I will be the first to admit; Uber hasn’t enjoyed the best image at Toronto City Hall. As a young company – Uber was co-founded by a Canadian only 5 years ago – we paid too little attention to building constructive relationships and earning the trust of city governments. But as a company, we have grown up. The evidence is in the 60+ international cities and states where Uber – over the last eighteen months – has collaborated with governments on ridesharing regulations. It’s also in the cooperative approach we have taken with Toronto Municipal Licensing staff over the past year. With tens of thousands of Canadians who rely on Uber for income and hundreds of thousands who count on us for safety – we understand and accept our responsibility to the community.

Uber is ready to commit to a long-term partnership with Toronto, working under smart regulations, to create jobs and improve transportation and congestion in our great city.

Let’s look ahead to the future and get to work.

Ian Black
General Manager, Uber Canada

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