Uber warns of higher prices and longer wait times following Toronto’s decision to freeze new licences, and to extend terms of existing ones.
The company previously had only offered new licence agreements in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It didn’t extend terms for existing licences in much of the country, instead choosing to offer a longer, “refundable” five-year deal for $8,400, after which the driver must sign a new, identical contract with the company.
That’s the same as it was with Uber on Feb. 1, before the city changed its regulations.
Uber said on Monday that Toronto’s decision to freeze new licences and extend existing ones “creates a situation that will have an impact on the ability of drivers to meet their financial obligations.”
“We are continuing to work with policymakers, regulators and government, and will take immediate action to address this situation,” the company said.
Uber said it would “reconsider” its position in the meantime, but noted that Uber drivers had already suffered many months of “unprecedented hardship” including “long and unpredictable” wait times and no rides on Monday.
“Even though the short-term impact of freezing new licences has been minimal, today’s announcement will inevitably have a significant long-term impact on drivers and riders,” according to the statement.
With news that Uber’s Toronto-area driver drivers will be paid for a full year if they have no passengers, the company said it has already cancelled plans to expand its operations in the city, and “will not support any plans to operate in Toronto in the future.”
The company cited new rules for car rides in the city, which require customers to use a smartphone app and display a driver’s licence upon request.
“If you are a driver and you do not have a smartphone with Toronto ridesharing in the app, you will be forced to drive in violation of the law, and will remain bound by our previous agreement.”
On a conference call with reporters, Uber’s head of real estate Michael Vangas said drivers will be paid for a full year with no passengers if they have no passengers for 12 months or more, but with new drivers in the Toronto area, Uber will only pay drivers for the first year