Uber drivers clock 49M kilometres in first legal year of Ottawa operations


One year after Ottawa city council gave Uber the green light, city staff say they’ve had relatively few problems and are not planning to require Uber drivers to install cameras in their cars.

The city released its one-year review of the ride-hailing service last week. The report shed some light on the service, which has a higher proportion of residents using the service than all other Canadian cities.

In the first year of being legal, Uber drivers gave 49 million kilometres of rides in the city. Much of the activity is focused on downtown, with 2.7 million trips originating in central Ottawa. One-third of all trips began downtown, and one-third ended there as well.

The first year of legal operation for Uber started contentiously, with a long and at times bitter dispute with the city’s taxi industry. However, things settled down in the following month. City staff said that they are “not aware of any complaints from the public regarding safety or any violations of the law committed by Uber Canada.”

Uber is not required to hand over its complaint data to the city, so the report is unable to comment on the internal complaint process the company uses to handle disputes.

“The rate of compliance is very high,” said bylaw chief Roger Chapman last month. Bylaw officers have been keeping tabs on Uber drivers to ensure they are not doing things such as accepting cash, or hailing rides from the street – essentially, to make sure they aren’t acting like taxis.

Since they started doing those checks, Chapman says that there has been less of a need for them.

“Any time you have a new licensing category, you see a spike in service requests,” he said, but that over the year “we do see a general decline in the need for that.”

Staff also shot down the idea, which has been proposed in other Canadian cities, of requiring Uber drivers to install cameras. The city has a set of requirements for camera systems for taxis, and they ultimately determined that it was neither necessary from a safety perspective, nor cost-effective, to mandate cameras.

– This story originally appeared in Metro News.