Uber mobile app screenshot.

Uber Faced With Legal Barriers In Chatham-Kent

Despite showing interest in coming to the municipality, Uber will still have to jump through some legal hoops in order to bring its service to Chatham-Kent.

According to Nancy Havens, the municipality’s manager of licensing services, council approved the following recommendation on October 23, 2017:

“A committee, including industry, public and internal staff from various departments, be formed to discuss all issues relating to the taxi industry and the use of private transportation companies as part of the Chatham-Kent transit system, and to make recommendations to council with respect to updating the taxi bylaw.”

Haven says the review committee has met several times and hopes to have recommendations on private transportation companies in the municipality for council’s approval as early as March.

Private transportation companies (PTCs) are also known as personal transportation providers, transportation network companies, or private vehicles and drivers for hire. Examples include Uber, Ola Cabs, and Lyft. PTCs cannot be hailed and must be booked through an app on the rider’s smartphone. Payment is done in advance through a credit card with the company, not the driver.

Haven says the current taxi bylaw prohibits the use of PTCs in Chatham-Kent.

She says PTCs like Uber, if approved, would be required to follow bylaw requirements established by council. If council permits the use of PTCs in Chatham-Kent, the requirements would be set out in the approved bylaw.

Havens says at this time, the municipality has not been approached by any PTCs.

Despite not having contacted the municipality, an Uber Chatham-Kent Twitter and Facebook page have been created in recent weeks, expressing interest in bringing its service to the community.

Havens says many smaller communities in Chatham-Kent would benefit from having access to PTCs. Cities that have already permitted the use of PTCs in their municipalities include Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Windsor.

Haven says in some cases, rideshare companies like Uber can actually work out to be a more cost-effective mode of transportation for municipalities. She says in March of 2017, The Town of Innisfil worked on a pilot project using Uber, because it is less expensive than the cost of a traditional bus system.