Edmonton councillors concerned ride-sharing companies potentially breaking rules

The same day the Alberta government rolled out its new insurance plan for ride-sharing companies in the province, councillors at Edmonton City Hall were discussing concerns those same companies are already going against the bylaw that governs them.

READ MORE: Alberta government unveils insurance policies aimed specifically at ride-sharing companies

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    Edmonton’s vehicle-for-hire bylaw came into effect on March 1 and stipulates only taxis are allowed to pick up passengers hailing a ride on the street.

    However, on Tuesday, several municipal lawmakers, including Coun. Dave Loken, said they are concerned ride-sharing companies are picking up street hails.

    READ MORE: Edmonton becomes first city in Canada to legislate ride sharing

    Loken suggested the size of the decals on ride-sharing vehicles may be confusing for customers.

    “You can see them from blocks away,” he said. “If it looks like a taxi, they’re going to try and hail it, right? So that’s a problem and something we need to address because that’s something that we told the taxi industry we would be watching for. Clearly it’s in the bylaw so we need to enforce it.”

    Loken acknowledged that council originally required the decals to easily identify ride-share drivers but said the decals may be too large and that the rules on decals may need to be reconsidered altogether.

    Mayor Don Iveson also said he thought council would need to revisit how the bylaw deals with decals on ride-share vehicles.

    “Right now, because you have vehicles that have decals, even if someone’s prearranged a trip on their phone and is now flagging the vehicle that they’ve prearranged that trip with, that can look to a third party like a street hail,” the mayor said. “But if you’re just waving at a car that has a very small decal on it that you couldn’t reasonably see from the curbside, then it’s clear to everyone that you’re just having a private interaction between a couple of vehicles and you’re only waving at them because you know who they are or you’ve pre-booked that trip.

    “I think there’s a perception right now, rightly or wrongly, that there’s hailing activity happening.”

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