In August 2019 our office attempted to place a review of the VFH regulatory framework on the city’s by-law review workplan for the current term of council. Ultimately, we were unsuccessful in this effort. One of the most emphasized reasons as to why a review of the VFH regulatory framework was not warranted at this time was that more research on the Ottawa context was needed and that much of that research would be best carried out as part of the process, now underway, to draft a new Transportation Master Plan. We released a robust position paper on this issue in the hopes that it will help ensure that the appropriate research is undertaken, and that it will help to frame the issue so that the problems and concerns are salient to those undertaking research and drafting city plans. Read it here.
With Councillor McKenney we gave direction to staff to review the possibility of increasing licensing fees for, and introducing an overall cap on, vehicles affiliated with Private Transportation Companies (PTCs), such as Uber and Lyft. Read about that here.
We also backed a motion from Councillor McKenney directing the city to renegotiate a higher ‘accessibility surcharge’ from Ottawa PTCs. Unlike for traditional taxi companies, the city allows PTCs to pay their way out of providing accessible service to Ottawa residents via an ‘accessibility surcharge’. This paltry sum, 7-cents per ride, pales in comparison to other jurisdictions (e.g. it is $2.75 USD in New York City). Our own city-solicited report from KPMG on this subject in 2016 advised asking for 30-cents—a still paltry sum we fell well short of. Two years later, the city came back to Council and advised that the rate was negotiated to be only 3-cents higher for a total of 10-cents. The 3-cents is, in real terms, only 2-cents when one factors in the inflation from 2016 to 2021. This increase, however, was apparently implemented in July 2020, but council was only on June 8, 2021. In any event, this miniscule increase is a slap in the face to accessible taxi drivers, to persons living with disabilities and ultimately to all Ottawa residents.