News / Calgary

Uber round two: Calgary Taxi advisory looking at regulation recommendations

Details of the bylaw have been released to the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee for review

Uber's general manager for Alberta Ramit Kar, communications manager Xavier Van Chau and Policy manager Michael Van Hemmen talk in the Metro offices on Thursday.

Tim Querengesser / Metro

Uber's general manager for Alberta Ramit Kar, communications manager Xavier Van Chau and Policy manager Michael Van Hemmen talk in the Metro offices on Thursday.

After bringing the City of Calgary and Uber to a simmer over the holiday season, administration is back at it, promising a heated debate at the Taxi and Limousine Advisory Committee Friday.

As promised a set of detailed recommendations on a hybrid open and closed taxi system has come forward and will be discussed by the advisory as the city prepares to cement a revamped bylaw and pave the way for Uber and other private vehicle for hire companies to call Calgary their stomping ground.

Metro spoke with representatives from the company in Edmonton Thursday where they are eagerly awaiting that city councils decision on a "workable bylaw" for Uber that would regulate their operations and, according to general manager Ramit Kar, allow them to stay.

Uber ceased operations in Calgary Nov. 21 – one of the only cities to successfully get a court injunction that forced the rideshare company off the road.

"We were not expecting it," said Uber spokesperson Xavier Van Chau. "When we first launched in Calgary we felt that we were in a position to continue to offer our service, given how things have evolved in that market, I think the popularity of the service has made it a pressing issue in the city, to see how the service can be brought back."

Uber and the City of Calgary are in "accelerated conversations" according to Van Chau. He said although the company is at a starting point that's much shorter than what they'd seen in Edmonton, they will have to have conversations rapidly as Feb. 22 approaches and council preps to decide on the bylaw.

The company's pressure on the market is bringing big changes to Calgary's taxi and limousine landscape. Now, administration is hoping to release all 307 plates in their arsenal to help cabbies compete with on-demand ride services.

Administration is even hoping to eliminate the 30 minute obligatory advanced booking time for limousines – which would allow UberBLACK to operate in direct competition with current sedan services.

Other specifics to the bylaw include municipal licensing for both TNC drivers a providers, proof of commercial insurance from the driver, police checks, mechanical checks and a two day "streamlined" driver course.

With regulation talks coming to a boil in Edmonton, almost a year after the service was introduced there, Van Chau said their recommendations could be a benchmark to look at for other municipalities.

"With the recommendations that we're seeing from city staff in Edmonton who had this year to review and consider options, I think it provides an interesting benchmark for the City of Calgary to consider," he said.