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Edmonton rideshare drivers finding bylaw ‘loopholes:' McKeen

Committee recommends quadrupling fines for drivers who accept streetside hails

An Edmonton city committee is looking to jack fines for rideshare drivers who accept streetside hails.

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An Edmonton city committee is looking to jack fines for rideshare drivers who accept streetside hails.

A city committee is pushing council to quadruple fines for rideshare drivers who take street hails, in light of evidence the problem is more widespread than thought. 

On Monday, the city's community and public services committee passed recommendations to jack fines from $250 to $1,000 for rideshare drivers who pick up commuters who call to them from the street — prohibited under the bylaw. 

Coun. Scott McKeen, who sits on the committee, said increasing fines will deter rideshare drivers from accepting hailed requests. 

“As enforcement gets better and as fines increase, we would see a lot more compliance,” he said.

The committee also found TappCar had set up “de-facto” taxi stands at Heritage Days and Edmonton Eskimo games, where its drivers had exclusive access to people at those events. 

That also contravenes the city’s bylaw, McKeen said. 

“They’re pushing past what the bylaw intended and finding wiggle-room there,” he said. “(Hailing) was not the spirit of the bylaw. If you’re a private transportation company, you’d only be hailed through an app.”

TappCar didn’t respond for comment by press time after Metro made repeated requests. 

In an email, an Uber spokesperson said the company “agrees that there must be appropriate fines to act as a disincentive for illegal street hails."

McKeen also suggested reducing logo sizes on cars is a needed solution, as people leaving the bar may be asking for rides.

“It’s concerning TappCar is so visible,” he said. “We’re going to have to tighten up the bylaw to get the intended spirit of it.”

Since March 2016, the city issued 200 tickets to drivers of hired vehicles, which include rideshare companies and taxis. 

Of those 200 tickets, 40 were operating without a proper city license, 45 tickets for failing to produce a required document to an officer, 40 for failing to display or provide required information to passengers. A smaller number of those tickets contravened other bylaws.

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