Orillia council amends vehicle-for-hire bylaw to remove barriers for ridesharing services

On Monday, Orillia council amended the city’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw to remove barriers for ridesharing applications to operate in the area.

“What became apparent over the last one-and-a-half to two years was that a number of people in the city…were having trouble getting a ride when they needed a ride from our existing services,” Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke told Global News.

“They were missing appointments, but they also were maybe making decisions to walk home late at night when perhaps it’s not the best time to do so, or maybe even drive when perhaps they shouldn’t, potentially creating another safety issue.”

As a result of these concerns, Clarke said, Orillia council decided to reconsider the requirement for vehicle-for-hire drivers to obtain a vulnerable sector screening certificate — in addition to a couple other elements.

“The issue apparently for one of the main rideshare services, for Uber, was that we required a vulnerable service safety check,” Clarke added.

“Our understanding was that if we did get rid of that particular aspect and made a couple other changes, that it would create an environment where rideshare services would come to Orillia.”

According to Clarke, the municipality has already been contacted by Facedrive, a ridesharing company based out of Scarborough.

Orillia council amended the vehicle-for-hire bylaw by removing the requirement for a transportation network company or taxi driver to obtain a vulnerable sector screening certificate if they’re transporting people who are 18 or over.

“If a driver is going to be transporting children that are not with an adult, they must first undergo that vulnerable sector check,” Shawn Crawford, Orillia’s legislative services manager, told Global News.

“If they’re not going to be transporting unaccompanied children, then the standard criminal record check is all that is required.”

According to Crawford, all drivers must get a criminal record check.

In Orillia, the existing business licence fees for transportation network and taxi companies have been reduced by 20 per cent.

Council also amended the vehicle-for-hire bylaw by removing the requirement that prevented a transportation network company or taxi driver from providing transit if convicted under several offences under the Highway Traffic Act, including failing to stop for a school bus and driving while under suspension, according to Crawford.

“The rationale there is the ministry of transportation already has a mechanism in place — in other words, the demerit point system — to deal with drivers that sort of fail to abide by the rules of the road,” Crawford said.

Council also removed the requirement for a safety standards certificate to be submitted to a transportation network company bi-annually for vehicles exceeding 40,000 kilometres in the prior year.

“A lot of visitors that come to our city use ridesharing services in larger urban centres, and so they’ve already got the app on their phone, so when they’re here visiting, they’ll be able to tap into that app and utilize it here,” Crawford said.

In July 2018, Orillia council adopted a bylaw to licence and regulate ridesharing services and the taxi industry.

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