News / Calgary

Uber calls Calgary's proposed limo changes 'protectionist'

Calgary cab companies concerned drivers will jump to limousine work

Metro File Photo

Calgary's taxi and limousine companies could be in closer competition as the city has cracked a window – loosening up limousine laws – in closing the price gap between services.

Wednesday during a committee meeting councillors approved three new regulations. If passed by council in October these new rules will waive the mandatory 30 minute booking period for limos, drop the prices for limos down over 50 per cent and change the types of vehicles limo companies can use.

"It's a game changer," said Coun. Evan Woolley. "It's critical that we as a whole city are able to adapt to the changing way our transportation systems are working, and we've done a wonderful job at that with car2go."

"What we did today is we've tried to slowly open the door for the changes to occur."

The rule relaxations made by the city were designed, in part, to appease Uber, the rideshare company looking to introduce their own limo service in Calgary. Uber was vying for an elimination of the $84.60 fare minimum, which administration has opted to knock down to $25.

Uber told Metro Wednesday Calgarians, according to third party city data, were 74 per cent in favour of eliminating the fee.

"The protectionist recommendations headed to City Council do not put Calgarians first and will not allow technology companies like Uber to bring premium services, including UberBLACK to Calgary," wrote Ramit Kar, Uber's General Manager for Alberta in an email statement.

Woolley said the rideshare company needs to come to the table and be a part of the discussion, and he was disappointed they didn't come to the committee meeting, but noted they have been making efforts to put forward a more public face in the city.

During the meeting several cab drivers, retired and current, aired their concerns over drastic changes during an economic downturn.

"Frankly the proposed amendments scare me as a taxi driver," said Robert MacGreggor. "While they bear a lot of merit, the unfortunate thing is with the economy since November of last year this is horrible timing to go making these changes right now."

For drivers and brokerages, a cheaper and more easily accessible limousine service could mean more taxi drivers converting to limousine driving.

Roger Richard, Allied Limousine and Associated Cab president, advocated for the changes. Last year his company introduced an Allied Black app that allows users to book cab or limousine rides legally.

"What we have today is a matter of making this system, this service, more fair to the consumer within the city itself," Richard said. "This is making the service for the consumer a little more competitive, a little more fair."

Although taxi numbers are regulated by a limited amount of licence plates, there's no cap for limousines

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