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Taxi drivers call for moratorium on licensing fees until Uber issue is resolved

Last Updated Nov 19, 2015 at 7:55 pm EST

Toronto’s taxi drivers are calling for a moratorium on licensing fees until the city sets up a regulatory framework for taxis and Uber.

“If the city won’t use the fees drivers pay for enforcement and regulatory equality as currently prescribed, then we’re asking them to begin leveling the playing field by easing expenses along with certain regulations for Toronto’s law-abiding drivers,” said Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi, in a release.

Currently, Toronto’s taxi drivers pay the city licensing fees to cover the costs of regulation and bylaw enforcement. Uber drivers are independent drivers who do not pay any licensing fee.

“Licensed taxi drivers are expected to sit idly by as the city continues to allow black-­market taxis to operate in our city and break our laws,” Hubbard said. “Meanwhile, licensed drivers are expected to pay up and abide by Toronto’s by-­laws, or face being fined and losing their permits even though taxi drivers and UberX drivers are providing the same service.”

In September, city council amended the municipal code so services like Uber require licenses.

However, the city has been unable to enforce the regulation because it requires auditing every transaction. The city is continuing to study options within Toronto’s regulations, with recommendations expected in 2016.

At the beginning of the month, the city lowered the base fare for taxis from $4.25 to $3.25.

A group representing Toronto’s taxi drivers announced earlier this week that it is considering the option of a taxi strike in order to highlight the issues cab drivers are facing.

It’s estimated taxi license fees contribute about $3.5 million to city coffers annually.