News / Ottawa

Bylaw says Ottawa Uber drivers have provided 1.4 million legal trips

Another "private transportation company" could soon be joining the city's fleet.

Uber has an agreement with the Ottawa Airport Authority that allows passengers to be picked up at a designated ride-share pickup spot outside of arrivals.

Haley Ritchie/Metro

Uber has an agreement with the Ottawa Airport Authority that allows passengers to be picked up at a designated ride-share pickup spot outside of arrivals.

Ottawa has 3,000 Uber drivers who have provided 1.4 million trips to residents since September, when the city agreed to allow the ride-sharing company to operate legally.

On Thursday city councillors heard an update from bylaw on how the city is working closely with Uber.

They also heard about grievances from cab drivers still upset with the changes.

“We’re looking to council right now to salvage our industry and we do need your help,” said Tony Hajjar, a representative from the taxi union, who apologized to the committee.

Hajjar claimed that Uber drivers, including former taxi drivers, are not following the rules. He said Uber drivers have been seen using the areas around taxi stands in the downtown core. He also claimed that Uber drivers have been hailing customers. Both are forbidden by the city.

“There’s gonna be a breaking point, and I’m sure you don’t want to see our breaking point," Hajjar said. "It’s getting so tough on the taxi industry right now we have people who can’t pay their insurance."

Chief of bylaw Roger Chapman said officers have been investigating reports of rule breaking, but have only laid eight charges against Uber drivers in the past three months.

None of the charges involved lack of insurance.

Overall, Chapman said, there have been “no significant issues” with the “private transportation company,” the term the city uses for companies like Uber. He said Uber has been co-operative in removing drivers who disobey the rules.

The city is working closely with the company, which has shared data on trips and drivers, including their ratings and complaints filed by customers. Bylaw has temporarily hired a data analyst to look at the numbers. 

Negotiations about a special fee for accessibility are still taking place.

While Uber is the only PTC currently operating legally in Ottawa, Chapman hinted that other companies could soon follow. A second local company, whose name was not revealed, is currently being considered.