Ottawa taxi drivers plan to blockade city bus depots
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:38PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 6, 2016 8:43PM EDT
Several taxi drivers in Ottawa say they plan to blockade city bus depots this week, in order to put pressure on city council as it debates a new transportation bylaw.
Police say they are aware of planned disruptions and are preparing to respond.
Local company BlueLine Taxi said on Twitter that there is “no planned protest or blockade planned by Union or BlueLine Taxi drivers,” calling it a “rumour.”
Mayor Jim Watson responded to BlueLine, saying he was “happy to hear that” and that “it would really erode public goodwill towards your industry."
Amrik Singh, president of the local taxi union, Unifor Local 1688, said taxi drivers are angry that people using the phone application Uber X have been carrying passengers in the city without being subjected to the same rules.
Singh said taxi drivers want Uber X users to be forced to install cameras in their cars, take the same taxi course that taxi drivers are currently undergo, and face the same type of criminal background checks.
“If the city is asking me to go to the local police station and bring a letter that I have no criminal charges,” Singh said, “I want this company’s drivers to do the same.”
Uber does its own background checks.
A petition posted on the union's Facebook page outlines additional complaints, including the fact that taxi drivers face high licensing and insurance costs, are forced to charge prices set by the city, and face twice-annual vehicle inspections.
The bylaw changes that will be debated starting Thursday include a plan to lower some licensing fees, eliminate taxi course requirements and ban app-users from taxi stands. A vote is expected Friday.
Bylaw officers and Ottawa Police have laid dozens of charges against Uber drivers in the past year.
With a report from CTV Ottawa