Uber threatens to leave Quebec, says ride-sharing rules onerous

Uber wants the Quebec government to renew a pilot program that allowed it to operate in the province over the past year | © AFP/File | DANIEL SORABJI
Uber wants the Quebec government to renew a pilot program that allowed it to operate in the province over the past year | © AFP/File | DANIEL SORABJI

Montreal (AFP) | 26 September 2017 16:12

“We are going to have to cease our operations in Quebec on October 14,” Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, director general of Uber Quebec, told a press conference, but calling for negotiations to find a solution that would allow the company to stay.

The Uber executive accused the Quebec government of “trying to impose old (taxi) rules on a completely new technological model,” saying “major changes” in the regulations would force Uber to effectively operate like a taxi company with full-time drivers.

Under the new regulations unveiled last Friday, he said, Uber would not be able to attract and retain part-time or occasional drivers.

Guillemette urged the government to reconsider its position and renew a pilot program that allowed Uber to operate in the province over the past year, without any changes.

At the same time, he offered to negotiate with authorities in the coming months to try to solve the deadlock.

The original one-year test program, which is slated to end mid-October, required Uber to collect and pay taxes on each trip made by its drivers.

It also capped the time worked by all drivers to a total of 50,000 hours per week.

Quebec Transportation Minister Laurent Lessard said at the time that it allowed taxi and Uber drivers “to compete on a more balanced playing field.”

Last week, the government renewed the pilot but with stricter conditions that would require Uber drivers to undergo 35 hours of training — the same as taxi drivers — and a criminal background check by police.

Uber vehicles would also be required to undergo annual safety inspections.

The announcement Tuesday comes after London transport authorities last week said they would not renew Uber’s license to operate in the British city when it expires, due to public safety concerns.

Company CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has apologized for “mistakes” by the US company but vowed to appeal the decision.

Uber has seen its global popularity explode since it launched in 2009 in San Francisco, but also faces bans in other major cities including Cape Town, Mumbai, and New Delhi.

© 2017 AFP

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