October 1, 2015 / 3:16 AM / 5 years ago

Toronto eyes ride-sharing rules in 2016; Uber asked to halt until then

Uber Toronto General Manager Ian Black speaks to the media as the debate over new taxi regulations proceeds in Toronto City Council at city hall in Toronto, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s city council voted on Wednesday to create a legal framework covering ride-sharing companies such as Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], asking city staff to suggest rules by next spring that would create a “level playing field” with taxis.

    The fate of the Silicon Valley company’s app in Canada’s largest city has eclipsed a broader taxicab review that has fuel led years of vigorous debate. 

    While the council vote asks staff to prepare to accommodate Uber and its ilk, it also passed a motion asking Uber to stop operations in the city until the rules are in place. 

    Uber’s general manager for Canada, Ian Black, said the company intends to ignore that request, media reported on Twitter after the meeting concluded. 

    Asked whether Uber would halt operations as requested, Uber said only in a statement that Toronto’s city council and mayor “have shown true leadership by voting for the creation of ridesharing regulations today.”

    The company has paired Toronto riders with drivers since 2012, but legal questions increased in late 2014, when the company began operating its UberX service, which uses unlicensed drivers in private vehicles. 

    In July, a provincial court ruled Uber was not covered by existing laws for taxi brokers.

    The council also voted to reduce the initial fee taxi patrons pay when they get in a cab to C$3.25 from C$4.25, effective Nov 1.  

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Ken Wills

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