A Toronto cab driver who was part of a protest by cabbies against unregulated Uber services in the city physically attacked a car driven by suspected Uber driver on Wednesday afternoon and ended up taking a free ride as a result.
The taxi cab driver who was part of the protest saw a white Honda Civic that he believed was an Uber driver’s car. He approached the vehicle, banged on the windows, and tried to open the driver’s side door. When the car began to move away, the cab driver grabbed on to the mirror and was dragged alongside. The car stopped about 20 metres later. At that point, the enraged cab driver let go of the car, and the suspected Uber driver left the scene in a hurry. The taxi cab driver was uninjured in the incident.
Cab drivers were protesting at City Hall and Queen’s Park in Toronto against the presence of Uber drivers operating in the city. During the protests, in addition to this cab driver attacking an Uber driver’s car, a police officer was struck by a taxi cab and injured. One person was arrested.
Yesterday, the Globe and Mail spoke with Sam Mioni, one of the protest spokespeople, and the president of the Fleet Operators Association about what the city of Toronto could expect during today’s schedules protest by taxi cab drivers.
“I’m sure there’ll be a cab shortage tomorrow, because there will be a lot of people that are going to be joining this demonstration. I hope it doesn’t disrupt the public to the extent of, you know, where people can’t move around. But I’m sure it will. We’re hoping that… the public is affected as little as possible. But we have to do something. Something has to be done to show this city that, you know, the industry is suffering. We are suffering.”
Sure enough, today, hundreds of Toronto taxi cab drivers converged downtown, blocking roads, slowing down traffic, and filling the air with the sound of honking horns. This did not sit well with the Mayor John Tory, who chastised the protesting taxi cab drivers for their actions, according to the CBC News.
“Blocking roads, blocking emergency vehicles, this is not an acceptable way to go about voicing concerns this will not speed up the process at city hall. The point has been made… [but] we cannot allow our cities to have these dangerous activities to continue during rush hour.”
At the moment, Uber drivers in Toronto are unregulated, but in September, the city began the process of drafting new legislation aimed at regulating the service and creating a more even playing field for all involved. Mayor John Tory says that Uber drivers are working “outside the law,” but the city does not have the resources to enforce the by-laws at this time despite both cab drivers and some city counsellors wanting Uber to be shut down in Toronto.
Sajid Mughal of the iTaxi Workers Association spoke out regarding the protests, saying that although the actions of some drivers during the protest against Uber have been “unacceptable,” the cab drivers of Toronto have a legitimate right to be upset.
“We are fighting for our livelihood, we must take some action right now. We have been suffering for almost a year, if we don’t take this action, this suffering will carry on. We must stand up and say enough is enough, this is illegal activity.”
He estimates that the Uber service has cut into taxi cab revenues by up to 40 percent, which is particularly frustrating for Toronto taxi cab drivers because Uber is not held to the same standards or rules that taxi cabs are held to in the city at the moment.
[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]