Uber, Lyft warn of higher costs, long wait times as Toronto moves to cap drivers

While debating the reduction of gas emissions in the taxi and ride-sharing industry, city council quickly passed a motion to cap the number of vehicle licences for companies like Uber and Lyft. Mark McAllister has more on the impact the move may have

Rideshare companies are warning of costly rides and long wait times as Toronto moves to cap the amount of ridesharing vehicles on its streets.

City council voted to freeze the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on Wednesday. No new licences to private transportation companies will be issued until a staff report on regulating the industry is completed by the end of 2024.

Mayor Olivia Chow says the move will benefit app company workers and help reduce emissions.

“We need to put a good system in place so that drivers can make a living,” she says. “We will have a good system without contributing too much on the congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Opponents warn the move will only drive up prices and prompt legal challenges from ride-hailing companies.

Uber issued a statement shortly after the vote, saying the cap will hurt residents who rely on rideshare and hurt their drivers’ income. The company says they are reviewing their legal options.

“Mayor Chow’s cap will ultimately hurt the diverse group of Torontonians who rely on rideshare as part of their transportation mix and those who drive rideshare for additional income, especially in a time of rising costs,” reads a statement from Uber Canada. “There was no procedural fairness on the council floor today.”

A statement from Lyft echoes the same sentiments and claims the freeze will pull drivers from the city’s busiest areas and lead to increased traffic.

“While Lyft supports electrifying our industry, instituting a licensing cap without any research into its implications is counterproductive and will do little to improve congestion downtown,” reads the statement.

Coun. Mike Colle introduced the unexpected motion on Wednesday, resulting in a heated exchange with some other councillors.

“Do you think that capping and preventing the ability to pick up these jobs makes it easier for people get by in this city?” asked Coun. Brad Bradford.

“I’m worried about air quality and people driving for $7.90 an hour,” responded Colle. “The workers should get paid more.”

There are currently around 53,000 ride-sharing vehicles licensed in the city.

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