The province has determined how deep Uber’s pockets are, and have dug a little deeper in setting the new rules for ride share companies. They have been set, as have the penalties, clearing the way for Uber to finally enter the market.
Under Bill 16, anyone who wants to drive for such a company will have to have a professional Class 4 licence. Also involved is a police check, and proper insurance.
The penalty set is $50,000 per offense, per day. “We didn’t want this to just be the cost of doing business for a company with very deep pockets like Uber,” transportation minister Brian Mason told a news conference. “We wanted to make sure that the penalties meant something.”
“Fifty thousand dollars for a single offense is maybe not that much for a company like Uber but if they’ve got 200 drivers and the offense goes on for a couple of weeks it adds up pretty quickly.”
The big hammer Mason said, is the government’s ability to go to court and to seek an injunction. “If the penalties were being ignored, if there was some on-going flouting of the law and the financial penalties weren’t working then I we would consider that.”
Negotiations created a new insurance product, that isn’t as onerous as what taxi drivers have been using. It covers commercial instances, but to Mason, more importantly it protects the public.
“It was always available to Uber,” Mason said. “They always could have got the regular insurance but they believed it was too expensive so we worked with them to find a lower cost product that would protect the public, other people on the road, and other people in the car.”
“You need to know that that person who is picking you up through an app, has not got a criminal record, that they have the right kind of drivers licence that means they’re capable of driving you safely and if you do get into an accident you have the request insurance and you’re going to be protected. That wasn’t happening with out regulation, and that’s why we brought in these regulations.”
With the new rules, Mason expects Uber, and it’s competitors like Lyft to enter the market. “The city has a bylaw in place which regulates in something similar areas and other areas where we don’t. Calgary has a bylaw as well. I mean Uber does have a couple of major competitors internationally and I wouldn’t be surprised if the regime is something that allows them to continue with their business model. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be coming here as well.”
The only aspect of the new rules the province decided not to touch is mechanical inspections which will be carried out by the city.
Things will be ready to roll July 1.
View the news release for Bill 16 here