New By-Law for Taxis and Uber

The Town of Cobourg currently regulates Taxis but does not explicitly include Uber, Limousines or Designated Driver services. One of the items of unfinished business on the Council’s agenda is updating the Taxi by-law to include these services and a proposed by-law which includes them will be offered to Council for approval at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on 25 September. It’s proposed to get more feedback from the Public and operators but the proposed by-law  is comprehensive and will require Uber and Designated Driver (D.D.) service drivers to be licensed with the same requirements as Taxi Drivers. Nomenclature is introduced or clearly defined (see below) and, no doubt to be in line with variable Uber fares, fares will be set by the taxi company and not the Town.

Nomenclature

  • Vehicles for Hire (V.F.H.) – all categories are included with this term. The new by-law will be called: “Vehicle for Hire By-Law”.
  • Transportation Network Company – (T.N.C.) e.g. Uber or Lyft
  • Designated Driver (D.D.) – a driver for a Designated Driver service where drivers drive customers home in their own vehicle.
  • Limousine – a vehicle for hire by reservation only and solely on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis with “no meter or two-way radio” (perhaps Brent means “Dispatch service” – a cell-phone is a 2-way radio) or similar device.

Key Factors

  • Fares were last adjusted in March 2022
  • No T.N.C.s operate out of Cobourg although they do drop off in Cobourg.
  • T.N.C.’s use a system of highly variable fares whereas Taxis charge per a Tariff based on fixed factors such as distance.
  • T.N.C.s, D.D.s and Limousines currently operate in Cobourg in violation of standards set for Taxis.
  • The new bylaw would require all Vehicles for Hire to have drivers licensed per the by-law and meeting the same standards.
  • Taxis would be required to have Tariff cards and to ensure passengers know the rates
  • Annual fees for Taxi drivers would be $75; for T.N.C. companies $5000 for up to 100 drivers and $0.11 for each ride starting in Cobourg; $250 for Limousine and TaxiCab owners.
  • Brent suggests that Cobourg should work with other Northumberland Municipalities to adopt the same rules
  • Provision is made for options for Taxis such as are available on a smartphone app – like is done for Uber.
  • Licensing requirements for drivers and vehicles are tight – see proposed by-law below.
  • It’s proposed to be in force by 1 November 2023.

Comments

  • It seems fair that the same by-law applies to all services providing a taxi like service
  • Allowing taxis to set their own tariffs is fair providing it’s made clear to passengers. This is effectively what Uber does. Possible higher fares might attract more taxi companies to Cobourg or cause existing companies to licence more cabs.
  • Providing an accessible taxi would cost more so higher tariffs for that should be allowed. Currently no accessible taxis are available in Cobourg and this by-law should make such a service more likely.
  • The By-law could yet be modified either after first reading by Council or after a public meeting provides input (no date yet for the Public meeting).

Resources

Addendum – 25 Sept 2023

At the Committee of the Whole Meeting on 25 September, Council approved the draft by-law (as a draft) and confirmed that a public meeting would be held but no date was set.  I’d guess it will be November with the new bylaws effective in the new year.

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Christine Verbeek
7 months ago

This service is greatly needed in both Cobourg and Port Hope. We’ve been here 2 years, moving from Durham and was shocked at the lack of transportation options. Why has the Town not implemented this already. You can do as many surveys as you want, everyone I’ve asked has no idea why we don’t have it. It would be really great to have in place by the Christmas season. I’d love to support local activities more but have no way home if I want to have a couple of drinks. There are no options.
I don’t understand the delay in getting this much needed service.

Lemon Cake
7 months ago

This is a great development – I’ve used Uber in many different countries and it’s typically been clean, safe and relatively cheap. Not sure why we’d need public comment on this – just get er done!

Sandpiper
7 months ago

I just wish the Town would at least Control its own Wages and Spending and Tax Grabs as well as they Try to
Control everyones else . Then we may not be so far in DEBT
Just because the Town can artificially inflate its asset values when ever it feels like to Balance the Books does not make it so .

Beachwalker
7 months ago

About time! Welcome to the real world, Cobourg!

Florence Fletcher
7 months ago

Our experience when volunteering at NHH has shown that trying to get a taxi in Cobourg is very difficult and can result in a 30 minute or more wait for service. Sometimes only a phone message system answers the phone calls which leaves passengers in limbo with no answer as to whether it is possible to get a ride. More options, more service is required.

Gerry
Reply to  Florence Fletcher
7 months ago

Try getting a taxi at 3 in the morning when you are discharged from Emerg. No taxi service until 7 a.m.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Gerry
7 months ago

Does our exorbitantly expensive bus run at 3 in the morning?

Ben
Reply to  Ken Strauss
7 months ago

Of course it doesn’t Ken and you know darn well it doesn’t so why ask a stupid question. If you want to demonstrate your dislike of the system I am sure you can do it much more cleverer than this comment!

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Ben
7 months ago

Ben, I appreciate your faith in my abilities to provide a cleverer comment. My rhetorical question was simply to emphasize that even an exorbitantly expensive bus service is not a solution to many of our transit needs.

Dave
7 months ago

Not surprised. Mayor Cleveland has wanted UBER here for some time declaring public transit a luxury. Hope UBER drivers will have to provide the same standard of vehicle, pass police checks and have exams for knowledge of the area in which they operate and meet insurance requirements, the same as taxi drivers. Elsewhere these have been serious problems affecting customer safety.

Rob
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

This is good news – I’ve taken Uber regularly within Canada and abroad – haven’t experienced any issues. Knowledge of the area isn’t really required to get you from Point A to Point B.

Kyle
Reply to  Rob
7 months ago

I too have used Uber in Canada, US & Europe and service has been excellent and drivers have provided great info on their home area.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,
Considering Cobourg Transit a luxury may be a stretch, but it is certainly not a need, it is a want.

40% of Cobourg’s peer communities do NOT have transit, and they manage just fine

Pre covid 2019, there were an estimated 300 individual users of Cobourg’s transit system. Currently, post-covid, that number has dropped substantially to an estimated 150-200.

As has been pointed out by others, the Town could buy each transit user a serviceable used car for less money that is spent on Cobourg Transit.

Ken Strauss notes that the cost per ride is about $60. At $20 per cab ride, the Town would save a substantial amount.

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

That’s nice Bryan – no other city that runs public transit all run it at a deficit. Cobourg is growing and transit service is a service. Perhaps some of the objectors wouldn’t mind then if some of their services were cut off. The better off of Cobourg. Port Hope runs two scheduled bus routes and apparently does just fine. Since on demand ridership has decreased as no one knows when the bus is coming. I own my own vehicle yet I knew of many who used this service each and every day. UBER would be beyond on their means.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave, what services, used by “some of the objectors”, do you suggest cutting off rather than eliminating the exorbitantly costly bus service used by very few residents? Perhaps police? Perhaps fire? Perhaps road maintenance? Perhaps our parks? Perhaps the CCC?

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
7 months ago

No plans to argue with you Ken – not spoiling for a fight. This is my opinion. Public Transit once a town reaches a certain size is a necessary service to the community and businesses. Port Hope, smaller, has no problem providing it and has a much more vibrant downtown and provides a feeling of inclusiveness to people. I know you don’t like public transit, affordable housing, prefer to shop on line as it is cheaper you have stated, with this in mind Ken, there is a foodbank here in Cobourg and the Blue Box was here and the Mission Store also offers low cost items, if you are feeling pressed financially.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,

I didn’t suggest that Cobourg’s transit service be profitable, just that it be run on a cost effective basis.

As for your claim that ALL transit services run a deficit, I suggest you look at Trenton’s transit service. As I understand it, the “service” is run by a a not for profit organization and not owned by Trenton. Don’t let the term “non-profit” fool you. Non-profits must earn a profit (surplus) in order to survive and grow.

At $15-$20 per cab/Uber ride, the Town could subsidize the fee and the rider would pay $3. It is said that it costs the Town $60 per transit ride. This plan would save the Town a pile of money and likely provide better service.

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Government of Canada provides this information on Quinte West Transit which encompasses Trenton Transit Bryan – the Government of Canada is providing $660,000, Ontario $550,400 and Quinte West $440,400 plus additional funding comes from United Way and 14 Service organizations. It is under the Title Canada and Ontario invest in modern public transit infrastructure for residents of Quinte West if you want to look it up.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,

Thank you for identifying some of Quine Transit funding sources. There are many more listed on the Quinte Transit website

https://quintetransit.ca/

Quinte Transit operates a scheduled “bus” service only in Ward 8 (Trenton). Some inter-town service is also provided

Had you researched further, you would have discovered that Quinte Transit is a registered Canadian charity and, as I noted previously, a non-profit organization.

As a non-profit organization (corporation) Quinte Transit has no shareholders and does earn a profit which is used for capital expenses, growth and debt repayment.

It is an example of an alternative to the traditional “Town” owned transit service..

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

Nevertheless Quinte Transit as opposed to the whole of Quinte West Transit website lists among its financial supporters Quinte West – which receives funds as listed above, 14 Service Organizations, Brighton and Hastings County, The United Way and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. It is a mostly tax payer funded organization Bryan. Anyway I did not set out to have a big debate with you and Ken Strauss I simply stated my opinion on public transit originally addressed to the Blog not you nor Ken. In Canada I am told we are still entitled to have our own opinions except for politically correct issues of course! Many non profit oganizations receive much of their funding from the government via the taxpayer. You seem to be talking applies and oranges here on funding sources.

Bryan
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave,

Not at all. The funding sources were never at issue.

The issue was your claim that ALL transit services operated at a deficit.

Quinte Transit shows that your statement is not correct.

As far as responding to “this blog” rather than Ken or me, You originally replied to this blog and stated your opinion. Fine so far. If you post a comment on this blog it is very likely that someone will reply. You then decide to engage or not.

Both Ken and I replied to your comment. Also OK

You replied to our comments as is your choice.

So what is your point?

Dave
Reply to  Bryan
7 months ago

They don’t operate through earned income but through government funding. Calling them a profit and loss is misleading as there is no true profit. The government provides the funding not the passengers fares which are a miniscule part of the operational costs. Otherwise they would operate in deficit.

However I do know someone who worked for a non profit receiving some government funding. Attending the Board of Directors’ meeting they discovered that non profit was in the hole for considerable funds. I have yet to see financial statements for Quinte Transit.

I so often hear from both you and Ken Bryan I am getting to feel I know you both personally as you respond so very often to my opinions and leave no choice but to refute in answer.

There are profit and loss organizations that are truly that. Services provided without government funding that can truly be called PROFIT AND LOSS. That is my point and this in not the case with Quinte Transit. However upper levels of government recognize how very important community public transit is.

Dave
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

correction – not the passengers fares which are a small part of overall income against operational costs.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Dave, for the financials of QUINTE ACCESS TRANSPORTATION INC NON-PROFIT CORPORATIONgo to
https://apps.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/hacc/srch/pub/dsplyAdvncdSrch and search for registration number 137769626 RR 0001 They do not appear to have filed their 2022 information but data for the previous five years is available.

Dave
Reply to  Ken Strauss
7 months ago

So Ken in your analysis is the “profit” from fares, earned income or does it show an excess government funding beyond the need to run the bus service? They are two very different things.

Alan McDonald
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

All Uber drivers must have a 7 yr or newer vehicle, pass a drivers abstract, a police background check and have personal insurance. Uber provides the necessary commercial insurance. Uber’s platform is safer than any current taxi platform. When you consider the level of information they require from a driver in addition to supplying the passenger with the driver’s name, picture and vehicle information including their licence plate number all to insure the passenger is getting into the correct vehicle as well as being able to gps track that vehicle and even send that tracking information to a parent or friend. I don’t see how the ride sharing business is unsafe. I venture to say it is safer.

Rob
8 months ago

I’ll just say this about that, seems like 33-pages of a make work project….if anything about this by-law places unnecessary obstacles or unreasonable barriers in the way of enhancing public transportation options, than someone should be lose their job. The Town and County have struggled with bus service and a viable taxi service is almost non-existent – Covid destroyed the taxi industry. Whatever controls, measures and costs/fees/taxes are contained in this by-law, it should streamline and ease the burden of entry for individuals considering trying to make a living by joining the TVH or a TNC not further hinder or complicate it.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Rob
8 months ago

Everyone should hope that this new bylaw will enable a viable taxi/Uber/VFH/TNC/DD service that will allow the elimination of our failed bus service. Our bus service is absurdly expensive and does not serve the needs of Cobourg residents. Consider that according to the latest budget documents the bus costs taxpayers almost $60 per trip!