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Toronto UberX drivers face 72 by-law charges

The City of Toronto has issued 72 tickets against UberX drivers.

Toronto Sun June 14, 2015 Don Peat and Nick Westoll

Licensing officials confirmed Tuesday that around half of those charges were laid after last week’s council decision that urged bylaw enforcement officers to crack down on UberX.

Uber’s UberX connects private drivers – rather than taxi or limo drivers – with paying passengers through the ride-sharing app.

In a statement, municipal licensing executive director Tracey Cook confirmed the city has laid 72 charges against drivers for not having a licence and/or not having their vehicles inspected.

“These investigations are focused on all unlicensed drivers who are providing private ground transportation services,” Cook stated Tuesday morning.

The fines range from $300 to $500, plus a victim surcharge. The maximum fine is $5,000 under the Provincial Offences Act.

“Investigation and enforcement are continuing,” Cook said.

The announcement came moments after a press conference by Councillor Jim Karygiannis where he suggested that based on his interpretation of the Highway Traffic Act, Pan Am visitors could face fines if they’re caught in an UberX vehicle.

“What used to be the responsibility of Uber is now the responsibility of passengers who arrange rides [for] themselves and friends in an UberX car,” Karygiannis said. “Uber, the company, is off the hook, and passengers and UberX drivers are in the frying pan.”

Last week, Uber Canada sent a message to its drivers assuring them the company would deal with any tickets from the city.

Susie Heath, a spokesman for Uber Canada, called Karygiannis’ statements on uberPOOL – another ride-sharing service that pools together passengers in the same area – “inaccurate.”

“We introduced uberPOOL to help keep Toronto moving during the Pan Am Games, and the positive response from riders and drivers has been tremendous so far,” Heath stated. “Councillor Karygiannis’ inaccurate comments this morning are clearly intended to invoke fear and come at a time when Toronto is welcoming the world to our great city.”

Uber also pointed out the section of the traffic act cited by Karygiannis is written to capture people arranging rides not passengers and there has never been an instance of this being applied to Uber passengers in Ontario.

Asked if the city would ticket Uber passengers, the city wouldn’t say.

“The city has been and is continuing to investigate the activities of unlicensed providers of private ground transportation,” read a statement from licensing officials.