I am writing this letter in regard to illegal taxis operating in the city of Kingston. From my understanding, taxis in Kingston are governed by Kingston Area Taxi Commission (KATC) By-Law 2 (link provided below). My purpose is to provide a solution to penalize the Illegal Taxis that defy our By-Laws, affect public safety, and discriminate against people who do not have the means to book or pay electronically.
From my examination of the current Taxi By-Law, there were three things which stand out: public safety, non-tolerance for discrimination, and transparency in fares. The ‘so called’ rideshare, or TNC services, such as Uber and Lyft do not comply with these laws and values.
I am aware of the legal efforts of the KATC to deal with the company Uber through a new TNC By-Law. However, in the meantime, there are illegal drivers on the road who are blatantly ignoring the local laws which KATC has the full power to enforce.
The merit for this letter is our laws are being breached by illegal taxis. Taxis, as defined by By-Law 2 of the KATC is as follows: “”Taxi” or “Taxi Cab” shall mean any motor vehicle used for hire for the transportation of passengers either wholly within the area of the Commission or to any point not more than five (5) kilometers beyond its limits (GENERAL DEFINITIONS 1. (d)).” Regardless of how these illegal companies try to categorize themselves, KATC has authority over all vehicles hired for passenger transport within their jurisdiction. Those caught providing illegal taxi services need to be fined appropriately. If we don’t uphold our laws, then there is no point in having any By-Law to govern taxis.
Without getting into the specifics of Schedule G of By-Law 2, there are several appropriate fines that can be applied to an Uber or Lyft driver operating in our city. According to Schedule G, a single case could result in fines of over $1000 to the driver who is operating illegally.
I understand that Uber has preyed on our vulnerability. KATC has limited funds to fully enforce the laws with this change in climate. I am proposing that the KATC uses Taxi drivers as their eyes. Taxi drivers witness patrons of Uber and Uber drivers at every public location. Our drivers can take pictures of the vehicle and plates to submit to yourself and you can issue tickets to the offenders. I understand that all drivers may not be suitable for this task. I would recommend that the commission develop a test and screen drivers to determine those who are suitable. There are many ways to go about this and we could enter discussion further about what would be the right method.
In conclusion, we cannot depend on an agreement with Uber. We have danced around this for three years. We can however uphold our laws and hold illegal taxi drivers accountable. We have hundreds of eyes on the road and can make this possible without the need to hire more people for the commission. We are better united, and we can look forward to a bright future by working together.
Please feel free to contact me at anytime.