Protesting taxi drivers ask government to buy them out
Published Wednesday, September 13, 2017 12:38PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 13, 2017 7:13PM EDT
Taxi drivers are calling on the government to buy them out.
Almost a year into the pilot project allowing Uber to operate in Quebec, taxi drivers say their income has dropped and Uber drivers are not respecting the rules.
Under the regulations set up by the provincial government, Uber drivers are not allowed to accept rides when flagged down, nor are they allowed to accept cash.
However taxi drivers say Uber drivers are frequently doing just that, saying they've videotaped Uber drivers accepting cash.
Analysts say Uber drivers have one substantial incentive for taking cash: Uber takes 20 to 50 per cent of all fares paid through its system.
Transportation Quebec Minister Laurent Lessard said he expects Uber to discipline its drivers when they violate the terms of Quebec's pilot project.
Uber is promising to look into the matter.
About 100 taxi drivers rallied on Wednesday morning to say that wasn't enough, and that every driver shuttling passengers in a car should be made to follow the same rules.
Alex Khalifi said the government should just buy out taxi drivers, a move that would cost thew government millions of dollars.
"Let them pay us the cost of our permit, and take it, take it, no problem. Pay us and take our permit and give it to Uber, give it to anybody. We don't want this," said Khalifi.
Taxi owners said that since Uber began operating in Quebec, the value of their medallions--the permits issued by Montreal's Taxi Bureau, which dictates the number of taxis allowed on the road--has dropped substantially.
They argue that due to the loss of revenue, 1,700 taxi operating permits should be bought back in order to maintain revenue for the remainder of drivers.
The cabbies say the government is corrupt and the premier has lied to them.
Quebec Solidaire MNA Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said the government hasn't adequately answered this crisis.
“We have to find a way to compensate those drivers. A lot of them have put their life savings in a taxi permit and now the only answer that Philippe Couillard has for them is ‘Too bad,’” he said.