Uber Rally Toronto - May 6th 2015

Published by Actionjax in the blog Actionjax's blog.

There I sit in the gallery at city council on May 5th watching them debate new taxi regulations surrounded by a packed house of taxi drivers wearing yellow and white shirts, waiting to find out what will become of the standard plate licenses. Without going into too much backstory Toronto wants to eliminate the Standard Taxi License that would remove plate owners who are not operators out of the picture. This would effectively push them to a new model of ownership that you must be a driver to own a plate. The issue before council was to revert to the old model thus ensuring owners would keep their plates intact. Regardless of whether you drive or not. So in a packed gallery of owners I decide to check my email.

Here is what I got



Hi Driver/Customer,

This week, City Council will review a number of measures that can have a big impact on Uber, so we need your help!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6, at 12:30pm we will be holding a rally to support ridesharing at Nathan Phillips Square, just outside Toronto City Hall. We'll be handing out 'Toronto Loves Uber' t-shirts and signs which you can personalize to show your support. Join us!




WHEN: Wednesday, May 6
TIME: 12:30pm
WHERE: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. West
DURATION: 30-45 minutes

Thank you for fuelling the exceptional growth of ridesharing in Toronto. We wouldn't be here today without the commitment of Uber riders and driver partners.

We look forward to seeing you at Nathan Phillips Square,
Team Uber Toronto

Uber B.V.
Vijzelstraat 68,1017 HL Amsterdam

View Online Unsubscribe Uber Technologies Inc., 1455 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103

What interesting timing. It come is as a motion from the Mayor is passed where they will not make a decision till the court system has had a go at the injunction that has been filled from the city that is to be heard on May 19th. The mayor said that until that time no decisions should be made until the status of Uber is decided by the courts. This does not sit well with the drivers there. They wanted answers. The motion passed by a large majority and now the issue won't be up again till June at the next council meeting.


With that now out of the way we turn to the Rally and what it represents. Uber has claimed all along it does not fall into the standard Taxi model issued by the city. But this week they also applied for a Taxi license to operate UberTaxi legally in the city of Toronto. (No application has been made for Black, SUV or UberX service).

So what was the rally about? It was to showcase both drivers and riders in the media that there is face to the machine called Uber.

This was a show to Toronto that they are very much a company that wants to stay in the city. And to show that there are faces to the driver segment with real stories behind why they do this. Also from member of the traveling public who for the most part have sided with Uber as the better transportation option compared to Taxi's.


For the most part it was not unlike any other small rally gathering. And it did gain notable attention from the media. The right things were said and the media posted it al up.

But the question is did it make a impact with city council? Well lets face it most counselors are in support of Uber either publicly or secretively. The ones who have ben vocal and apposed to Uber in Toronto sit on the Taxi licensing board and have gone on record to say that the Taxi industry people have supported their campaigns in donations. They favor the existing industry because in their mid it works.

I think council right now is waiting on the big May 19th date for Uber to have it's day in court. That alone will decide what will happen to Uber going forward. If Uber is kicked out of the city of Toronto, I think you will see the turnout go from a few hundred people to a few thousand. Reason is people don't react till they feel pain. And people will accept varying degrees of pain before they react.

The event itself did the job of getting Uber in the spotlight yet again. What it didn't do was move the conversation forward with either the city or public. It delivered the same message to the public as they always have. The only thing new was the free t-shirts.

What Uber needs to do is close the loopholes in their product here in the city. That does not mean bow down to regulators or the industry. But it does mean they need to respond accurately to the criticism of the public. The topic of insurance was on everyone else's tongues in the press group. It was the number one ask by the media. But the answer was as canned as it always is. The media were asking the same questions and they were getting the same answers.

The problem is everyone has heard them before. Drivers were even answering the questions of the media using the same responses Uber has stated. Any deviation to that was met with email us and we can tell you directly. But nothing in public.

I would like to call the rally a success but there is no real way to measure this objectively. The court case scheduled for May 19th will be the most likely measure of how Uber continues to operate. In speaking with Ian Black GM of Uber Canada he has stated win or lose they have prepared for both scenarios.


As for the drivers I spoke with, most have said they are happy working on the platform. It has given their independence and has been a great way to make money. When asked about the expense side of things most account for it and in the end said their prospects for finding a job in the city were low. Most have been out of work for a while as Uber gives them a great way to make some money on their terms, and has given them back their independence.

From the passenger side of things they say it gives them more options to do things in the city they were not able to do with how expensive taxis have become. And the service is far better.

After all the t-shirts and bottles of water were handed out in the end it was not as disruptive as Uber itself. And when the decisions are made later this month in court, we may see where the public loyalty will sit. Will this be considered a test run for something bigger?

Either way council will have it's hands full in the coming months and right now the big battle is set May 19th.
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