Uber is putting out the full-court press in support of expected new regulations governing rideshares in Toronto.
The city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department will reveal in April a new draft bylaw widely expected to formally legalize rideshare services – although taxi companies would likely call them bandit cabs – like UberX.
The new regulations would most likely require Uber drivers to be licensed by the city, have commercial insurance, be subjected to background and criminal record checks and generally submit to the same kind of municipal oversight as cabbies.
The bylaw must be ratified by Toronto Council, which could come as early as May’s meeting, but Uber isn’t wasting any time. It’s organized an online petition, created a web video and is encouraging customers to contact city councillors directly to push for supporting rideshares.
GETTING TOUGH ON ILLEGAL PARKING
Parking your private vehicle in a designated TTC bus lane is about to become a whole lot more expensive.
The city announced this week it is raising fines for blocking TTC areas and other parking infractions to $150. Also covered under the new regulations: blocking sidewalks, double parking, and blocking High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes.
In a statement Mayor John Tory said the new measures would reduce congestion and increase safety for pedestrians. It also costs $150 to park in a designated bike lane, although no plans for extra enforcement were announced.
POLICE CHANGE MINOR ACCIDENT POLICY
Toronto police will no longer dispatch officers to minor automobile accidents.
The move will mean any collisions involving minor damage but not requiring medical attention will no longer require the presence of a uniformed officer. The benefits according to Toronto Police Services are reduced traffic delays, less of a potential for a secondary collision and the easier deployment of more specialized accident investigators for serious crashes.
According to police, accident rates have risen around five per cent year-to-year making the practice of dispatching officers to fender-benders “unsustainable”.
This week the OPP also announced it has expanded the number of collision reporting centres in the GTA to eight.
NEW EXPRESS BUSES ON THE ROAD
Without much fanfare, the TTC this week launched new express bus service on existing routes.
As of Sunday, March 27, new express or Rocket buses were running on both Don Mills Road and Kipling Avenue.
The 188 Kipling supplements the 44 Kipling South line, making limited stops between Kipling Station and Lake Shore Boulevard on weekdays. The 185 Don Mills Rocket meanwhile runs every 10 minutes or better every day, providing express service on the regular 25 Don Mills route between Pape Station and Steeles Avenue.
Also launched this week: the 186 Wilson Rocket operating between York Mills Station and Humber College Mondays to Fridays, and an expanded 199 Finch Rocket for service to York University.
Rahul Gupta is Metroland Media Toronto’s transportation and infrastructure reporter. Reach him on Twitter: @TOinTRANSIT