Even in the face of negative headlines about sexual assaults, concerns over data privacy, protests from taxi drivers, raids on its offices and outright bans, Uber continues to grow. Recently, Toronto city council asked staff to develop new rules to accommodate Uber within municipal taxi and limousine bylaws. Since it launched in 2009, Uber has expanded its services dramatically. It’s now available in more than 300 cities in 58 countries. The Wall Street Journal estimates Uber is worth about $50 billion, almost twice its value in 2014. In the Greater Toronto Area alone, Uber says it has 500,000 riders a month and growing. Edmonton is on its way to being the first major Canadian city to regulate ride-sharing. The city is set to vote on a set of proposed regulations, which would see Uber drivers get official city taxi licenses, in November. Kitchener-Waterloo became the first in Ontario to propose a ride-hailing bylaw in August. Under the proposed rules, drivers would be required to have a GPS and a closed-circuit television system installed in their vehicles, and commercial auto insurance policies for a minimum of $2 million. Still, no region has been able strike a balance that leaves all parties satisfied.
As far as Calgary is concerned, the City inches closer to allowing Uber into the high-end cab market with proposed bylaw changes.
As jurisdictions around the world are trying to strike a balance between traditional and new forms of mobility, we are getting a small avant goût of type of conflict and lobbying that shared driverless technology will bring.
Business travel is a $300 billion-a-year industry, and these new services are vying for a bigger portion of the spending pie. Only 12% of Americans have used Uber or Lyft while traveling on business but that may be changing. Uber, with 160,000 active drivers providing ride-share services in more than 150 North American cities, is growing in acceptance.
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