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Toronto’s city council could soon consider a recommendation that all vehicles-for-hire, including Ubers, Lyfts and taxis, must produce zero emissions by 2031.
The recommendation is included in a report from Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division.
City Hall’s Economic and Community Development Committee is set to consider the report this Thursday, and will decide whether the recommendations will be brought forward as a motion at next month’s council meeting.
The report recommends that an exception should be provided for stretch-limousines and accessible vehicles “until further review determines that enough zero-emission vehicle models can be converted.”
Plug-in hybrid vehicles would also be exempt until 2033, according to the report.
The report also recommends the creation of a city-funded grant that would be dispersed to taxi and limo owners, as well as to transportation companies like Lyft and Uber, to help offset the cost of the transition to zero-emissions vehicles.
OPERATORS SPLIT ON FEASIBILITY
Kristine Hubbard, Beck Taxi’s operations manager, said the report doesn’t take into account the infrastructure needed to successfully implement its recommendations.
“We don't have the infrastructure in place, we don't have the charging stations in place and what we learned over the consultation process with the city … is this works really well for people with single-family homes that can install a charging station at their house,” Hubbard told BNNBloomberg.ca.
“Do we think that this is the demographic we're talking about when it comes to Uber and taxi drivers? I'm going to suggest, largely, no.”
Hubbard said other thresholds, such a clear number of targets for charging stations in the city, need to be met in order for the industry to realistically achieve zero-emissions by 2031.
She added that currently, some taxi drivers who attempt to transition to zero-emissions vehicles have difficulty getting insurance.
“We have a driver who bought a Tesla product, brought it to the insurance company, and they will not insure an electric vehicle as a taxi,” Hubbard said.
Toronto’s two major vehicle-for-hire companies, Uber and Lyft, have each already made commitments to become net-zero platforms by 2030.
“Three years ago, we announced our commitment to reach 100 per cent electric vehicles on the Lyft platform by the end of 2030, and we look forward to partnering with the city of Toronto on this journey,” Lyft said in a statement.
“Along with smart, targeted investments in incentives and charging infrastructure, we can help tear down the barriers that prevent drivers from making the switch — and build a cleaner and more sustainable city in the process.”
On its website, Uber said it intends to become a zero-emissions mobility platform by 2030 in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The company plans to become net-zero internationally 10 years later.
DIFFERENT SETS OF RULES
Hubbard says that despite the well-intentioned goal of creating a greener vehicle-for-hire industry in Toronto, the city report’s recommendations would price out many taxi drivers, who operate under a different set of regulations than Uber and Lyft drivers.
“We have two different groups here. The city likes to suggest that there's been some kind of even playing field, or that Uber and taxi drivers are the same – they just absolutely are not,” she said.
“The rules are completely different, insurance requirements are completely different. Operating a taxi is miles ahead in terms of cost compared to an Uber or Lyft driver.”
Hubbard said that ultimately, if it becomes too expensive to be a taxi operator, no one will want to do it anymore.