Uber Lives Another Day in Toronto After Vote to Study New Rules

  • Some councilors wanted to ban the car-hailing app from Toronto
  • Uber has 400,000 users in the city, one of its fastest-growing

Toronto’s city council voted to let Uber Technologies Inc. continue operating in one of its fastest-growing markets while the city works on new rules to regulate the ride-hailing company.

Councilors amended an earlier motion that would have required Uber to get taxi licenses for each of its drivers, a move that may have forced the San Francisco-based company to end its popular "UberX" service in the city.

Dozens of taxi drivers and their supporters, sporting bright-yellow shirts emblazoned with the words "No 2 Tier System," filed out and some shouted “shame” as the votes were counted in Toronto’s council chambers.

The development is a win for Uber, which is facing limits on its services in many cities as lawmakers struggle to decide how to oversee the mobile-phone based ride service that has expanded rapidly and upended regulated taxi industries all over the world.

UberX, which connects passengers with private drivers using their own vehicles, has grown to 400,000 users and 15,000 drivers in the city since starting a year ago. Toronto is one of the company’s fastest-growing North American markets and is among its 10 biggest cities in the Americas, Ian Black, Uber’s general manager for Canada, said Wednesday.

Changing Landscape

Toronto Mayor John Tory led the call to devise new rules instead of treating Uber like a traditional taxi service. Tory argued that it’s unrealistic to use existing regulations to govern companies that use smartphone applications to connect riders and drivers.

“An attempt to ban Uber will not put the genie back in the bottle,” he said during the debate.

A poll by Nanos Research earlier this week said 76 percent of Toronto residents support new rules that regulate UberX while allowing it to operate.

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