In Kingston and Area, By-Law 2 (KATC) is the letter of law applicable for ‘all’ vehicles used for hire for the transportation of passengers (Taxi’s) in the jurisdiction. When established, it could not have been forecasted that there would be a bombardment of illegal taxis, of this magnitude, operating in the city today. Corporations, such as Uber and Lyft, are facilitating illegal taxi services by providing a means for illegal drivers to operate. Additionally, they have blind-sided their drivers by not doing their diligence to inform them of the local laws; drivers, of whom most believe it’s legal to operate here. Regardless of the definition of their services, be-it rideshare or TNC/PTC, the drivers fall under KATC’s authority unless new laws are incorporated. By allowing the operation of illegal taxis today, Kingston is susceptible to increased illegal activity in the future by new classes of passenger transport companies (i.e. driverless cars, or whatever that may be).
The way that Uber entered the Kingston market was less than admirable. Instead of going through the proper channels first, to try to become fair competitors, they acted in bad faith and started their operation with a complete disregard for the law; as they have done in many cities around the globe. This can be paralleled to persons building a new house without receiving the proper permits from the local authorities first. For this reason, Uber should not be afforded cooperation from KATC to accommodate them in any capacity.
In law, a facilitator of illegal activity, in general, is just as guilty as those whom commit the act. Uber needs to be held accountable in this regard. In the interest of Public Health and Safety, Kingston needs to set an example for Canadians that they will not tolerate those who believe they are above the law and operate without approval first. There are the right and wrong ways to establish fair business; Uber fits in the latter. For this reason, a court order should be sought to cease the company’s existence in Kingston and Area. Furthermore, restitution should be sought, on behalf of the Local Taxi Industry, for losses in the full amount of all their business since their existence here.
A feasible plan to raise the funds for legal fees should be the priority for all of those involved in the local Taxi Industry. KATC does not require permission from the Public, the Taxi Industry Operators, Uber, or any other ‘rideshare’ company facilitating illegal taxi operations, to uphold the laws regarding illegal drivers. Fining illegal drivers may be the way to raise appropriate funds, and potentially deter Uber drivers from driving. There may be many other ways to raise the funds and this topic should be of the utmost importance in KATC meetings moving forward until a resolution is reached.