Livery Transport Services has been asked to review the possibility of amending the Livery Transport Bylaw to allow TNCs to partner with the existing taxi or limousine companies/vehicles. ——–appearing on LTS update to SPC on April 11, 2018
Partnering TNCs with traditional taxi/limousine companies is the only right thing for TNCs to do. Not only should such partnerships be allowed, but governments should insist on it or require them to create their own traditional taxi/limousine company.
It’s especially important in cities such as New York, Chicago, Calgary and Montreal who by law limit the number of taxis on their streets with the use of transferrable taxi plates called medallions.
It’s interesting to note that in cities not using the transferable medallion system of licensing, TNCs have a habit of distinguishing themselves by their absence. The reason is simple: taxi/limousine companies can easily respond to changing market conditions by sizing their fleets to match demand.
TNCs efforts to move governments to intervene, in the case studies reviewed, TNCs and Uber in particular, created a political crisis at the local level, and pushed the state to solve that crisis through four primary tactics: barge in, buy, bully, and bamboozle. Every single one of these tactics has been used in Alberta.
BARGE IN: Uber set up shop in both cities without a broker’s license or any other kind of license offering customers free rides at first, then later recruit drivers with their private cars and go to work without leave from the city officials.
Local taxi inspectors would enforce the cities taxi bylaws through sting operations where they’d pose as customers then prosecute their drivers. Uber countered by paying their fines and removing taxi inspectors from their customer list.
In court and with media help they’d argue the fiction that there’s no legislation to govern them because they are not providing a liver service but simply offering a ride-sharing service on an online hitchhiking basis. In other words, the customer thumbs a ride using his smartphone app compensates his driver for gas—paid hitchhiking.
BUY—THROUGH CHECKBOOK LOBBYING: This is the practice of hiring well paid and well connected professional lobbyist—often former aides to local politicians and even bureaucrats and the usual donations to their campaign funds in an effort to persuade politicians to write the kind of legislation they want—usually to the detriment of the taxi/limousine industry.
In other words, backroom wheeling and dealing with government officials. This is what many Calgary Cab Drivers were referring to when, on one occasion, they attended an SPC meeting with stickers attached to their uniforms which read “END TO BACKROOM DEALS”.
BULLY: In the absence of useful skeletons in people’s closets, the popularity of TNCs illegal services made it easy for them to say, “If you don’t write legislation that fits our business model and effectively prevents taxis from responding to our competition, we’ll just simply pack up and quit and leave all those valued customer/your voters high and dry.” Yikes! says the politicians—we can’t have that!
The TNCs then provide local governments with their business model which demands that the taxi profession be thoroughly deprofessionalized and prohibited from giving a timely response to calls while the can do the precise opposite. Put another way, the number of taxis is limited by law which in turn prevents brokers from adding cars to their fleet when demand warrants it. TNCs, on the other hand, are allowed as many cars as they want.
BAMBOOZLE: This an effort to convince the public through the use of disinformation and brazen propaganda that ride-sharing services is so wonderful that it must absolutely be an integral part on any city’s overall public transportation network. And persuade them to make infernal pests of themselves through e-mails 611 phone calls or calls to politicians/bureaucrats using phone numbers provided by TNCs once they’ve ceased operations owing to city enforcement. In other words, getting their customers to harass the living bejeesus out of government officials until they fawn.
Such marketing practices are detrimental and destructive to healthy and effective competition in anywhere in the economy and must be harshly dealt with.
Clearly, the only way governments can correct the political angst created by TNCS and especially Uber is not only to allow such partnering with taxi/limousine companies but to insist on it or alternatively, start their own taxi/livery company using taxi medallion either company owned or owned by independent owner-operators. Private for-hire vehicles (PFHVs) have only one place in the livery industry: by servicing the excess business and only the excess business during periods of vehicle shortages such as the Christmas season.