Can the sharing economy solve congestion?

A new report, published by the Mowat Centre, explores the opportunities and challenges presented by the sharing economy for tackling traffic congestion, and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s (GTHA) regional transportation challenges. The report argues that future transit planning in the GTHA should incorporate “shared mobility services” and encourage multi-modal transportation and more public-private partnerships. In order for this to happen the Government of Ontario needs to develop a flexibility and responsive regulatory framework.

Read the full report here.

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Ride-sharing Insurance “Imminent”

According to Finance Minister Charles Sousa, ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, will be able to purchase blanket insurance for their drivers “imminently.” This revelation comes in the wake of decisions by councils in Toronto and Ottawa to regulate and allow ride-sharing companies to operate alongside traditional taxis. New ride-sharing insurance will allow companies to provide the same coverage currently available to taxis and limousines.

For more:

Ontario Proposing Changes to Allow Ride-sharing Insurance 

Ontario Proposing Changes to Allow Ride-sharing Insurance

The government of Ontario is set to authorize reforms to the insurance system that would allow ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to qualify for the same fleet insurance that is available to taxi and limousine companies. Currently the only insurance available for ride-share drivers is a product developed by Aviva, which acts as an add-on to personal insurance. New “fleet” insurance would allow a ride-sharing company (such as Uber) to purchase the insurance, rather than leaving it to its individual drivers. Drivers would still be required to have their own personal insurance.

The new proposal would define a “fleet” as a group of not less than five automobiles, of which at least five are commercial or public vehicles, or vehicles used for business purposes that meet the following two sets of criteria:

Set A:

(i) The automobiles are under common ownership or management, and

(ii) Any automobiles that are subject to a lease agreement for a period in excess of 30 days are leased to the same insured person

Set B

(i) The automobiles are available for hire through a common online-enabled application or system for the pre-arrangement of transportation, and

(ii) The automobiles are insured under a policy of automobile insurance in which the automobile owner or lessee, as the case may be, has coverage as an insured named in the contract

 

Potential respondents have until May 25 to comment on this proposal. More information can be found here.

 

 

City of Toronto Releases Uber Regulations

The City of Toronto has released details of its new approach to regulating ride-sharing companies, such as Uber. Under the proposal “private transportation companies” (like Uber) would be allowed to operate legally under a new bylaw, while the rules for the city’s existing taxis would also be loosened.

Some of the key features of Toronto’s approach for taxis include:

  • Taxis will continue to charge city-regulated rates when a cab is hailed from the street, while rides booked either by phone or online can be discounted
  • The $70/per hour minimum for limousines will be removed
  • The number of accessible taxis will be increased 25% by issues 1,000 licenses
  • Application, renewal, and training fees for accessible taxis will be waived
  • Minimum owner-operator hours will be eliminated for all licence types
  • Ownership restrictions that have prevented incorporation will be eliminated
  • An application and renewal fee of $290
  • 17% reduction of the renewal and training fee
  • City-run taxi and limousine training will be eliminated

For private transportation companies:

  • Any four-door vehicle less than seven model years old can be licensed
  • All drivers must be screened to city-established standards (including criminal background and driver’s record checks)
  • Drivers to not need to be licensed by the city, but must meet the same criminal background and driver screening requirements-records will be subject to audits by the City
  • Must hold $2 million insurance coverage

For more:

Backgrounder: Toronto’s Ground Transportation Industry Review 

Staff Report: A New Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw to Regulate Toronto’s Ground Transportation Industry 

Presentation: New Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw Regulating Toronto’s Ground Transportation Industry 

New Developments for the Sharing Economy

A number of new developments this week changed the landscape for Uber, and other companies that make up the “sharing economy.” First, on Thursday the City of Ottawa announced a draft plan to regulate Uber. Under Ottawa’s plan, the city would add a new category of “transportation network company” to its current taxi licensing regime. Vehicles licensed under this new category would be subject to mandatory driver screening, vehicle inspections, and a minimum $5 million liability insurance coverage. Vehicles driver under this category would also be subject to a 10.5 cent/ per ride levy, to cover licensing costs. To help create a more level playing field, the City would significantly scale back the regulations that currently apply to taxis.

Second, the province released a report, in partnership with the MaRS Solutions Lab and the City of Toronto, which advocates for a variety of measures to regulate Uber and allow taxi companies to operate in a less strictly regulated environment. Specifically, the report recommends:

  • A new municipal licensing category called a “transportation network company” (similar to what Ottawa has proposed) and flexible licensing fees-as opposed to a flat annual fee
  • Mandatory driver screening, vehicle inspection, and insurance coverage for all ride-sharing companies
  • City-established training requirements, with training requirements left up to the companies themselves
  • Fixed rate for “street hails,” but deregulated fares for rides ordered through apps that allow consumers to see the price ahead of time
  • Lowered commercial insurance rates for taxi drivers, and potentially a discount for drivers who exhibit “good behaviour”
  • Provincial changes to allow for more ride-sharing insurance products
  • Better coordination between governments, taxi brokerages and ride-sharing companies to ensure wheelchair accessible services
  • Clarity about what the tax obligations are for ride-sharing companies, ensuring that HST is charged on all rides

You can read the full report here.

Finally, MPP Tim Hudak released what he referring to as “part 2” of his Opportunity in the Sharing Economy Act. Introduced as a private members bill, the new legislation would accommodate carpooling services (where money isn’t exchanged), cottage food entrepreneurs (who prepare food in their own homes and then sell them) and task service apps. The Bill hasn’t been posted online yet.

 

Can ride-sharing improve transit budgets?

A new paper, published this week by the Brookings Institute, examines how transit agencies can harness the power of ride-sharing companies, like Uber and Lyft to collaborate in providing transit services. According to the paper, this potential collaborate could result in better services for citizens and serious savings for local governments.

Read the full paper here:

How Lyft and Uber can improve transit agency budgets 

Government Partnering with AirBnb on Pilot Project

The provincial government has announced a new pilot project with AirBnb to raise awareness about the rights of homeowners and consumers when offering or booking online accommodations. As part of the project, users of AirBnb will be provided specific information about:

  • How to follow tax laws, such as reporting rental income
  • Consumer protection rights, such as refunds and cancellations
  • Accessibility requirements
  • General regulatory and safety requirements

AirBnb and the province will work together to create a website with specific information about regulatory and legal requirements that are specific to Ontario.

For more:

Ontario Partners With AirBnb on New Pilot Project 

Federal Government Conducted Study on the Sharing Economy

According to reports in the Toronto Star, the federal government has been conducting research about the opportunities and challenges presented by the sharing economy. A committee of five deputy ministers enlisted a team of analysts to identify a number of challenges for regulators of the sharing economy, including labour and social issues, privacy, health and safety.

The fact that the sharing economy will create winners and losers is obvious….What remains to be determined is what the overall impact will be on Canadian society and the degree to which proactive government responses can positively shape the outcomes of the sharing economy–Federal Government Report

Key findings from the report include:

  • the Canadian social safety net (including old age security and employment insurance) would need to be redesigned to meet the needs of sharing-economy workers
  • it will be difficult to apply the country’s current labour laws, such as the minimum wage, to sharing economy workers
  • attempts to over-regulate the sharing economy could push the it outside of the government’s control

News of this report came just days after the City of Edmonton became the first Canadian city to legalize the ride-sharing company Uber.

For more:

Toronto Star: Ottawa examines challenges of ‘disruptive’ expanding sharing economy