Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Taxi protests affecting public safety

            Mayor John Tory is reinforcing that there is no excuse for the taxi drivers of Toronto to be protesting in the manner that they are, reiterating that he understand how they feel but what they are doing is endangering the people of the city.
            Early Wednesday morning, thousands of taxi drivers from Toronto gathered at Nathan Phillips Square to protest against UberX and the lack of progress the municipal government is making. Taxi drivers feel cheated by UberX, who allegedly offer taxi service without paying the required fees and fulfilling regulation requirements . Mayor John Tory addressed this issue in a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, stressing the importance of keeping the city safe.
            "They are putting the safety of the public at risk, they are blocking ambulances and first responders, and police officers are being knocked to the ground," Tory said. "The dangerous and dismissive tactics do nothing to address this issue. It does not offer any excuse for activity that puts public safety at risk, that disrupts the city safety."
            Throughout the downtown Toronto, taxi cabs can be seen lined up on the streets, occupying the lanes to impede other drivers. Not only is it dangerous for drivers, but also for people like Anatoliy Novitsky, whose main type of transportation is by bike.
            "Normally, they are the ones who give the most danger (sic) to ride on the road in the first place," Novitsky stated. "Whatever is happening right now - it's dangerous, it creates not just more unnecessary obstacles, but makes today's commute much more stressful."
            Protesting that they are being treated unfairly by the Toronto government, taxi drivers have occupied major Toronto streets as early as 7am Wednesday morning. When asked about why the taxi drivers chose to protest today, Waheed Ahmad, a Toronto taxi driver,  said that they have been treated unfairly, having been promised by Mayor Tory that there would be a legalized plan for UberX. A plan has still not been presented, and UberX is allowed to continue operating without proper registration.
            "We are suffering, our family is suffering, our income is going more than fifty per cent down and it's because of UberX," Ahmad said. "They are illegally driving on the road. Some of the drivers don't even have their G license, no commercial insurance. We have to pay the fees, we have the special courses, and we pay $11,000 to cover commercial insurance."
             Mayor Tory expressed that he understands what the drivers are saying, and hopes that they will return to their work, as the municipal government continues to work on the plan for Uber. 
            "To those who are protesting today, we hear you. We are doing our work, we are doing it as quickly as possible to create regulations that will balance the playing field. But blocking roads and endangering the public, this is not an acceptable way to go about raising concerns."