Uber and the Quebec government have reached an in-principle agreement on a pilot project that will allow the taxi-app service to continue service in the province, after a “difficult period” of negotiations.
In the face of new legislation, passed earlier this year, to regulate transport by taxi services in Quebec, Uber agreed to make concessions to its business model, Quebec Transport Minister Laurent Lessard said in a statement.
Enactment of the new law was delayed until September 08 to allow both sides to negotiate, however Lessard had said that the province’s automobile insurance board would go ahead with enforcing the law even if an agreement was not reached – which would see licences suspended and vehicles seized.
The legislation requires all drivers to have a specific licence for taxis, along with special plates on their cars, and undergo criminal checks and customer service training.
Uber Quebec’s general manager, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, announced the agreement in the early hours of Thursday morning, Metro News
Lessard had said that negotiations were in a “difficult period” as the 90-day wait came to an end, and suggested the respective positions of Quebec and Uber were hard to reconcile.
However, Premier Philippe Couillard said on Wednesday that he was optimistic a deal would be reached, adding Uber had to adapt to the province’s demands.
Uber, which has caused anger among the taxi industry in Quebec, wants more flexibility for its drivers – so that they are able to work whenever and wherever they want – which Lessard said would have a negative impact on people who hold actual taxi permits.
Uber’s Guillemette said the company had decided to continue operating under the pilot project to give Quebecers “more options to get around town or use their car to earn income”, showing a willingness to work in a regulated industry and to be a partner in innovation.
Guillemette said there would be more information released in the days to come about how the scheme will affect drivers and riders.