AMS launches petition to prevent Uber from being forced out of Kingston

Student government argues that the service has proved vital at Queen’s

The AMS petition argues that Uber poses a significant benefit to the Queen's student body. 

On Sept. 30, the AMS Executive sent a petition to the Queen’s student body, protesting the City’s attempt to drive Uber out of Kingston.

The petition, which was sent in a mass email, is addressed to the Kingston Area Taxi Commission and argues that Uber has been proven to ensure student safety, especially after a night of drinking.

Uber — a multinational transportation network that allows users to request rides through a smartphone app — they argue, allows a student to see the driver’s name, photo, car, and license plate number, and that this transparency provides students with a sense of security when traveling.

According to the petition, having a ride just one click away and knowing exactly when your car will arrive to pick you up also provides a convenience factor that is attractive to students.

The petition form asks for student’s names, schools, email, and additional comments in order to sign.

Speaking to The Journal, AMS President Tyler Lively said the issue first came to their attention in the summer, when The Kingston Whig-Standard published an article regarding an incident between Uber and the City. 

When Uber arrived in Kingston, many taxi drivers and others in the city voiced their concerns that the service, if left unregulated, could be detrimental to other transportation companies in the area and to the general safety of the community.

According to Lively, at a City Hall meeting attended by the team,  Mayor Bryan Paterson had stated that the City would be following “best practices” that were implemented in other jurisdictions for regulating ride-sharing companies.

Lively said he was subsequently surprised to see that the recommended regulations the Kingston Area Taxi Commission put forth were a lot more stringent than in other cities.

According to The Whig, the Kingston Area Taxi Commission received a report recommending Uber adopt taxi industry practices such as imposing minimum fares, dress code and behaviour standards for employees, and required police background checks.

Furthermore, the report recommended that Uber vehicles should have either a security camera, plastic shield or a blinking 911 light, and that Uber should set up a physical business office in Kingston.

According to the Kingston Area Taxi Operators Association news publication, News From Behind the Wheel, Uber representative Chris Schafer has been in conversation with the Kingston Area Taxi Commission.

Schafer, according to the publication, insisted that these recommended requirements are out of step with what cities like Toronto and Ottawa are doing.

Uber’s arrival in Ottawa was met with equal resistance. According to a CBC article, many taxi drivers in the city fiercely opposed the arrival of Uber, but in April, City Council voted to legalize the service. 

Upon hearing of the City’s proposed regulations that would effectively force Uber out of the city, LWT reached out to other members of the AMS and President’s Caucus for their thoughts on the issue.

The student leaders were all in agreement that the issue had to be addressed for the sake of all students in Kingston. LWT then reached out to Uber and asked how they could help, which is when they decided to form their petition.

As of Oct. 5, the petition has approximately 500 signatures.

According to Lively, “it’s about having choice in the marketplace.” He explained that many students value Uber as a mode of transportation over using Kingston Transit, taxis, or walking.

“If students think it’s a valuable choice, and if we can say Uber is a safe service, then it should be present here in Kingston."

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