American based ride-sharing company Uber is looking to expand its operations in Canada and held its first interviews and screenings for potential drivers in Hamilton on Jan. 14.
However, the city of Hamilton is not fully on board and has its reservations about the way Uber operates and wants the company to abide by the rules in place for taxis in the city.
The main bone of contention is that Uber calls itself an online enterprise that acts as a facilitator between a passenger and a driver. But the City of Hamilton argues that the process of taking a passenger from point A to B constitutes a taxi service and the company should work within the framework in palace for other taxi services.
Among a number of other issues the age of the cars is an important one. Uber requires its drivers to have cars that are not older than 2005, whereas Hamilton taxi laws state that a taxi cannot be more than six years old.
Uber and city officials are scheduled to meet next week to discuss these issues. Hamilton City spokeswoman Ann Lamanes said the position of the government is very clear.
“Without the proper licensing they would be in violation of city by-laws and would not be allowed to operate.”
This is not something new for Uber as it has faced numerous objections and controversies in different countries as they try to challenge the status quo.
In September 2014 Uber was hit by another controversy when a Girl in Delhi, India claimed she was raped by an Uber driver. The city government immediately ordered Uber to cease operations and stated that the company needs to be registered and should have proper licensing to operate.
Uber prides itself in making sure it does thorough background checks for its drivers, but the driver arrested in Delhi for rape was earlier involved in a rape case and was later acquitted and his police clearance letter was a forged one. That prompted many questions about the authenticity of Uber’s background check process.
Thailand’s government also prohibited Uber from operating in September 2014, stating that the drivers working for the company were not registered and not licensed to drive commercial vehicles. Thai authorities also argued that the credit card system used by the Uber drivers also did not comply with the regulations.
Another incident in 2014 that ended with Uber issuing an official apology was in Australia. During the Sydney siege when an armed man had taken number of people hostage in Sydney downtown, the rates for Uber cabs tripled as people tried to make their way out of the area.
In December 2014 a Judge in Spain ordered Uber to stop its operations after number of protests by local taxi associations.
In the ruling on the temporary ban, the Spanish judge made it clear that Uber’s drivers did not have proper licensing and were offering unfair competition against local taxi companies. The ban was put in place following a complain by the Madrid Taxi Association.
Despite these hurdles, Uber has expanded rapidly since its 2009 launch and now operates in more than 250 cities across 50 countries.