The City of Toronto's enhanced Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw, which took effect on January 1, is intended to improve the safety and accessibility of taxicabs, limousines and the vehicles of private transportation companies such as Uber, Lyft and Facedrive.
Key changes include the creation of an Accessibility Fund Program, additional data requirements, mandatory training for all drivers and an increase in the years of driving experience required for those behind the wheel.
The new requirements related to public safety and consumer protection are:
- The minimum required driving experience for all drivers with taxicabs, limousines and private transportation companies (PTCs) has been increased to three years.
- All drivers need to successfully complete a City-approved training program as a requirement of licence issuance or renewal. Preliminary topics include transporting passengers in a safe manner, driving in an urban setting, providing accessible service, anti-racism, diversity and sensitivity, and legal requirements.
- Drivers are now required to attach “Watch for Bike” notices to their vehicles. In addition to those notices, PTCs will need to send notifications through their app and remind passengers to watch for cyclists before exiting a vehicle.
- Drivers will need to securely mount their hand-held devices in their vehicles.
- All drivers will need to display notices in their vehicle if a camera is being used to record passengers. In addition, PTCs have the option of using their app to inform passengers about a camera before they complete their request for a ride.
The updated bylaw also introduces an Accessibility Fund Program to help offset the higher cost of providing wheelchair accessible service. The program will be funded through a regulatory charge on members of the industry not providing wheelchair accessible service. Funds will be disbursed to wheelchair-accessible taxicab owners and drivers based on service standards and other eligibility criteria.
In addition to these new requirements, other changes will improve the licensing and enforcement of the industry. The changes include increasing the amount of data collected to help monitor impacts and inform future initiatives.