A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘taxis

[PHOTO] Looking south at traffic, Yonge below Wellesley

Looking south at traffic #toronto #yongestreet #yongeandwellesley #night #traffic #becktaxi #latergram

Written by Randy McDonald

April 16, 2019 at 9:33 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Mississauga City Council Was Right to Reverse its Ban on Uber”

Torontoist’s Erik McLaren makes a fervent case that Mississauga city council should not have tried to regulate Uber, on account that such was not within its purview. I’m skeptical of this: Regulating transit obviously is, and for good reason.

Toronto isn’t a hub of innovation. The venture capital community is famous for its stinginess, and we’re regressive when it comes to any disruptive technology. Fintech companies, for example, are having a hard time breaking in to Toronto, while their peers thrive in London and New York. There’s a reason we need to look to America to give us an imagined idea of our entrepreneurial spirit. That’s why we invent phrases like “Silicon Valley North,” so we can feel like we’re moving the right direction.

The problem is uniquely Canadian: we move too slow. In the modern economy, workers like cab drivers, who ideally work an eight-hour shift five days per week and take home enough money to make a solid living, will soon disappear. Canadian cities are at a crossroads where they can accept companies like Uber, the most divisive organization in the sharing economy today, or they can try their damnedest to ignore what consumers in their cities want, like Mississauga did.

But even the City of Mississauga has failed in this regard when it reversed its ban on Uber this week. It’s a sign of changing times: Canadian cities must accept the new norm that Uber brings, or face the consequence of irate citizens.

Mississauga councillors’ move to order Uber to cease operations in the city was done for ostensibly sound reasons. “I doubt the City of Mississauga is gonna sit down with someone who’s not willing to follow the rules at all,” said Mississauga Councillor George Carlson, who voted to ban Uber in April.

Uber, however, has been involved in the regulatory frameworks that have been established by Toronto, Edmonton, and Ottawa. While the company has pushed for its best interests—that is, to exist without regulation in cities like Mississauga—it is still playing by the rules.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 30, 2016 at 8:15 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Al Jazeera looks at the rejection of political Islam by Tunisia’s Ennahda party.
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation notes the ambition of Zambia to become a major food-exporting country.
  • Bloomberg notes the negative impact of booming immigration on the New Zealand economy, observes Ireland’s efforts to attract financial jobs from London-based companies worried by Brxit, reports on the elimination of Brazil’s sovereign wealth fund, and notes a lawsuit lodged by Huawei against Samsung over royalties.
  • Bloomberg View notes that Russia can at least find domestic investors, and worries about the politicization of the Israeli military.
  • CBC reports on the Syrian refugee who has become a popular barber in Newfoundland’s Corner Brooks, notes the sad news of Gord Downie’s cancer, and wonders what will happen to Venezuela.
  • Daily Xtra writes about the need for explicit protection of trans rights in Canadian human rights codes.
  • MacLean’s notes Uber’s struggles to remain in Québec.
  • National Geographic notes Brazilian efforts to protect an Amazonian tribe.
  • The National Post reports about Trudeau’s taking a day off on his Japan trip to spend time with his wife there.
  • Open Democracy wonders what will become of the SNP in a changing Scotland.
  • The Toronto Star looks at payday lenders.
  • Wired examines Twitter’s recent changes.

[URBAN NOTE] “Meet the Montrealer who gave Uber a jolt”

Sunday, the Toronto Star printed Sandro Content’s article about a Montréal businessman who is challenging the Uber model with a fleet of electric cars.

Alexandre Taillefer’s father taught him to read a newspaper upside down at the age of 5. It seemed no more than a game at the time, certainly less practical than the lessons that soon followed in how to play the stock market. But it taught him to look at things differently, an ability that helped make him a rich man.

As with so many of Quebec’s public figures, Taillefer’s high profile is largely restricted to the province. But that could soon change. He’s the Quebec poster boy for the battle against Uber, a crusade he plans to bring to Toronto next year.

[. . .]

The head of Montreal’s board of trade, Michel Leblanc, calls Taillefer the bearer of a “third way” business philosophy between scorched-earth “disruption” and ossified status quo. The best example, Leblanc says, is Taillefer’s fledgling taxi company, called Téo.

It’s a bizarro-world reflection of both Uber and the traditional taxi industry. Its name a French acronym for “optimized ecological transportation,” Téo’s only similarity to Uber is the app-based hailing and payment service.

The differences begin with Téo’s fleet, which are all electric cars owned by the company. App software glitches since the launch last November often kept its initial 60 cars off the road until fixes were completed in early April. Taillefer plans to have 1,000 cars by 2018, a total investment of $250 million.

The more radical difference is Téo’s model of drivers as company employees. They earn $15 an hour ($4.25 more than Quebec’s minimum wage), work eight-hour shifts, receive benefits including two weeks of vacation and company contributions to Quebec’s pension plan, and are eligible for workers’ compensation in case of injury.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 23, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Bloomberg notes that cutting back on immigration would not boost a post-Brexit United Kingdom’s living standards, reports on Uber’s fight with taxi companies, and observes that the new president of the Philippines vows to continue his predecessor’s economic policies.
  • Bloomberg View argues China should want a Taiwan with a higher international profile.
  • CBC notes the status of Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and reports on the discovery of a bacterium lacking mitochondria.
  • MacLean’s interviews Poland’s president on everything from Ukraine to Second World War history wars.
  • The National Post suggests the Arabian peninsula may have been a refugium for human beings during the last Ice Age and notes an American judge’s condemnation of the Pentagon for not releasing torture photos.
  • Wired reports on a coast-to-coast road trip, in the United States in a car, circa 1903.

[URBAN NOTE] “Don’t Worry About my Safety as a Woman in an Uber”

In an essay at Torontoist, Viviane Fairbank is scathing about politicians, in Toronto and elsewhere, who deploy arguments about women’s safety only when it is politically convenient for them.

In May 2015, York Regional Police charged an Uber driver with sexual assault. After news of the crime broke, ever-quotable Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) advised women on the appropriate reaction: stop using Uber. “Women in Toronto have got to be warned, and I’m warning the City of Toronto’s women,” he said. In a similar vein, Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) announced last year that he “wouldn’t feel safe if [his] daughter or wife were to get in an Uber cab.”

Nonetheless, private ride-sharing services were legalized by the City of Toronto last week. The decision wasn’t easy for City Council: though it’s clear that Toronto’s taxi services aren’t enough, contention surrounds Uber, quantified by the dozens of taxi and Uber enthusiasts who showed up to the Council vote.

Forgotten amid an imbroglio of complaints over regulation and pricing were the concerns raised by Mammoliti and Karygiannis, no matter the implicit condescension: that hopping into a car with an Uber driver puts women at risk. Moreover—and perhaps unsurprisingly—female voices were ignored or, even worse, mocked during the majority of Toronto’s Uber vs. taxi debate.

Women’s safety, it seems, has warranted political focus only when city councillors need fodder for their greater anti-Uber campaigns.

For some people, arguments like Mammoliti’s and Karygiannis’s are convincing enough. But many women, including me, already know the dangers of navigating a big city. For years, we have taken care of ourselves—and continue to do so in the age of Uber.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2016 at 7:55 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Mississauga bans UberX and other ride-sharing services”

No one seems to have seen this coming, especially given Toronto’s acceptance of Uber. From the Toronto Star‘s San Grewal:

In a break from its giant neighbour to the east, Mississauga council has suspended all operation of ride-sharing services such as UberX.

The only way ride-sharing companies can now legally operate in Mississauga is if they effectively follow the same regulations governing traditional taxis, after Wednesday’s unanimous vote.

But Mayor Bonnie Crombie left the door open, ever so slightly. In a 10-2 vote, council decided that if Uber and other ride-sharing services suspend operations immediately, a committee will be struck to look at a possible ride-sharing pilot project.

“I think it will make the industry very pleased,” said Crombie, of the compromise, that leaves open the possibility of Uber to operate under different rules in the future.

“We think we have struck the right balance. We’ve listened very closely.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2016 at 7:50 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Taxi industry says it rejects surge pricing adopted by city council”

CBC News’ reports on what I have to think is an effort on the part of the taxi industry in Toronto to distinguish itself, in a good way, from Uber.

An organization that represents cab companies in Toronto says its taxi drivers will not implement the surge pricing adopted by city council earlier this month because it is unfair to customers and bad for business.

City council voted on May 3 in favour of new regulations governing the taxi industry, including surge pricing on fares booked through a smartphone app.

Rita Smith, executive director of the Toronto Taxi Alliance, said Wednesday that the taxi companies “want nothing to do” with surge pricing.

“We do not consider this to be capitalism. We call it extortion,” Smith told reporters on Wednesday.

Smith said surge pricing would be difficult for regular customers who set aside funds for taxis every month.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO notes the legalization of Uber in Toronto and reports on city council’s approval of Bloor Street bike lanes.
  • In a very personal essay, the Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly explains why she does not celebrate Mother’s Day.
  • D-Brief notes research into whether bears are put off by drones.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at Japanese pop star Kahimi Karie.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the governor of North Carolina said he might be looking for a new job.
  • Language Hat notes multilingual libraries. (Toronto has quite a few, of course.)
  • The LRB Blog tackles the question of Labour anti-Semitism.
  • The Map Room Blog shares maps of Canadian wildfires.
  • Peter Watts posts some evocative art.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares images of Mars’ giant volcanos.
  • Window on Eurasia notes declining social mobility in Russia.

[NEWS] Some Sunday links

  • The Atlantic notes how some Americans are dealing with an invasive species, the lionfish: by hunting and eating them.
  • Bloomberg notes that the Ukrainian prime minister resigned as a result of the Panama Papers.
  • Bloomberg View notes the creation, in Russia, of a military force directly under the president.
  • CBC notes the report of an Uber driver in Ottawa that he only made eight dollars an hour after costs, and considers whether Canada might be obliged to provide First Nations children with education in their languages.
  • The Conversation notes the sophistication and lasting power of Australian Aborigines’ star maps.
  • NOW Toronto notes divisions among the NDP’s young members as to what to do with Mulcair.
  • The Toronto Star notes the need for Mulcair to get approval from a large enough majority of NDP delegates.
  • The Dragon’s Tales linked to this War is Boring article arguing that a Japan armed with nuclear weapons would have made things much worse.