News / Ottawa

Uber had few complaints after first year in Ottawa

City staff say service operating properly.

Seth Wenig/AP

One year after Ottawa city council gave Uber the greenlight, city staff say they have had relatively few problems and are not planning to require Uber drivers to install cameras in their cars. 

The city released its one-year review of the ride-hailing service last week, shedding some light on a service, which has a higher proportion of residents using the service than all other Canadian cities. 

In the first year of being legal, Uber drivers gave 49 million kilometres of rides in the city. Unsurprisingly, much of the activity is focused on downtown, with 2.7 million trips originating in the downtown Wards 12, 14 and 17, one third of all trips beginning in downtown and one third ending there as well. 

The first year of legal operation that for Uber came in like a lion, with a long and at times bitter dispute with the city’s taxi industry, largely went out like a lamb, with city staff noting that they are “not aware of any complaints from the public regarding safety or any violations of the law committed by Uber Canada.” 

Uber is not required to hand over its complaint data to the city, so the report is unable to comment on the internal complaint process the company uses to handle disputes.

“The rate of compliance is very high,” said bylaw chief Roger Chapman last month. Bylaw officers have been keeping tabs on Uber drivers to ensure they are not doing things like accepting cash, or hailing rides from the street—essentially, to make sure they aren’t acting like taxis.

Since they started doing those checks, Chapman says that there has been less of a need for them. “Any time you have a new licensing category, you see a spike in service requests,” he said, but that over the year “we do see a general decline in the need for that.” 

Staff also shot down the idea, which has been proposed in other Canadian cities, of requiring Uber drivers to install cameras. The city has a set of requirements for camera systems for taxis, and they ultimately determined that it was neither necessary from a safety perspective, nor cost-effective, to mandate cameras.

More on