Transportation Networking Companies Eyeing Ottawa
VRTUCAR’s purpose always has been to increase transportation options for people in Ottawa and Kingston. We have been operating successfully for fourteen years. Each VRTUCAR removes 10 privately-owned cars from our streets, according to studies by the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, at the University of California at Berkeley. In our opinion, other alternatives to owning and operating a private car are a good thing. Ridesharing has been available for decades in Ottawa. Uber and Lyft (recently named “transportation networking companies” by authorities in the U.S.), are simply new options powered by innovative technology. Uber, and other transportation networking companies that want to offer their services in Ottawa, must recognize the unique geographic environment of the Outaouais: two provinces, and many municipalities. Municipal by-laws apply to all businesses and services, and should be consistently enforced. For example, VRTUCAR has had many offers to locate shared cars in private driveways. But in most neighbourhoods (for example, the Glebe and New Edinburgh) the by-laws prohibit this. We are restricted to commercially-zoned parking. As for VRTUCARs participating in programs such as Uber or Lyft, our insurance company prohibits it because of liability issues. Here are some questions people should ask if they are going to use Uber:
- Who is providing Ontario auto insurance to Uber to cover drivers and passengers? (Our insurer provides $2 million liability to VRTUCAR drivers.)
- Who will ensure that their cars have proper and sufficient insurance?
- What is the maintenance schedule and record-keeping on participating vehicles?
- How often is the driving partner’s licence reviewed, and by whom?
- Will their cars be required to have snow tires?
- Will there be any Uber staff positions created locally?
- Will driver income be reported to Canada Revenue Agency by Uber or the driver partners?
- Who owns Uber?
CSO – VRTUCAR