Ride-sharing companies will face new rules for operating in Red Deer when a revised bylaw is approved by city council. (Black Press file photo).)

Uber drivers warn high licensing costs would force them out of Red Deer

City council will discuss parameters for a new bylaw on Monday

Red Deer’s Uber drivers say new rules the municipality is considering could prevent them from operating in the city.

Their concerns range from high licensing costs to too frequent vehicle inspections.

Michael van Hemmen, of Uber, wrote to the city stating that the parameters city council is considering are “not sustainable for the ride-sharing business model,” in which many drivers sign up for the job, but many end up taking very few fares.

Van Hemmen added Red Deer’s proposed requirements are more onerous than in three other mid-sized Alberta municipalities.

In his comparison with Lethbridge, Airdrie and St. Albert, only Red Deer is considering requirements for rider-share drivers’ and vehicle licences, and semi-annual vehicle inspections. (Lethbridge relies on provincial regulations for record-check standards, while Airdrie and St. Albert only require annual inspections.)

Red Deer is also the only community of the four considering mandating annual quality compliance inspections.

But the biggest difference is in business costs.

According to van Hemmen’s comparison, if Uber drivers had to pay the same licensing fees as Red Deer taxi drivers, the cost for 100 ride-share drivers and their vehicles would total about $36,500 — compared with paying $774 in Lethbridge, $1,000 in Airdrie and $682 in St. Albert.

Van Hemmen called this one of the key factors that could prevent Uber from continuing to operate in Red Deer.

Local Uber driver Travis Beebe expressed similar concerns in a letter, saying “Uber drivers really don’t make a lot of money.”

Additional upfront costs may cause many drivers to be squeezed out of the city, “thus negatively affecting availability of the service,” Beebe wrote.

In a report to be presented Monday to city council, inspections and licensing manager Erin Stuart acknowledged that aspects of the proposed bylaw don’t mesh with Uber’s business model.

Since dozens of motorists apply to drive for the company, but many only work a couple of times a month, Stuart is recommending that lower licensing fees be considered for very part-time Uber drivers, as opposed to more full-time taxi drivers.

Vehicle mechanical checks could also be done once a year, instead of twice, for Uber drivers who take few fares, she added.

While Uber prefers a unified licensing system, which puts the onus on the company to be self-regulating under provincial requirements, Stuart is not recommending that city council consider this model — which is not favoured by the taxi industry.

Taxi companies want the city to continue setting standards and expectations for their industry to preserve their reputation for safety.

Cabbies are also concerned about the proposed lifting of a cap on taxi licences. Stuart is, therefore, recommending the cap be maintained for two years and then be reconsidered.

Stuart feels a proposed bylaw could have different fee options and vehicle check requirements, while still regulating all driver-for-hire companies.

City council will discuss this on Monday.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP arrest two suspects in November armed robbery in Innisfail

RCMP searching for Devyn Michael Hendriksen

Amethyst House hosts grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s only permanent supportive housing unit has officially opened its new… Continue reading

Canada will respect an Iraqi government order to leave: Sajjan

OTTAWA — Canada will respect any decision by the Iraqi government to… Continue reading

‘Unprecedented’ blizzard prompts state of emergency in St. John’s, N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital shut down on Friday… Continue reading

Red Deer couple says they may have seen a cougar in city

A Red Deer couple believes they may have spotted a cougar in… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Jan. 16 Red Deer Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society monthly meeting… Continue reading

POLL: Have you had trouble starting your vehicle’s engine during this week’s cold snap?

Have you had trouble starting your vehicle’s engine during this week’s cold… Continue reading

Canada will respect an Iraqi government order to leave: Sajjan

OTTAWA — Canada will respect any decision by the Iraqi government to… Continue reading

For some major U.S. shippers, 2019 ended on a sour note

For major shipping companies dealing with trade wars and slowing global growth,… Continue reading

‘Unprecedented’ blizzard prompts state of emergency in St. John’s, N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital shut down on Friday… Continue reading

Boeing is working on a new software issue on the 737 Max

Boeing is working to fix a newly discovered problem with software powering… Continue reading

Ontario research shows risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy

Research from three Ontario universities sheds new light on the risks associated… Continue reading

Documenting Indigenous history brings ‘humility’ to filmmaker

Documentary film/interactive talk highlights relationship between Blackfoot elder, Chinese newcomer

Most Read