Uber has been the toast of millennials, the bane of taxi drivers and the complication of lawmakers pretty much since its conception. There seems to be no easier way to get somewhere than simply telling an app where you want to go and having the algorithm figure everything out for you. Then all you have to do is get in a stranger’s car, trust them not to kill you in a horrifying accident, and be on your way. Oh, and sometimes they have snacks!
Well, the government is pretty concerned about the whole ‘driver maybe killing you’ thing (hey, that’s what it’s there for). A number of cities–London, most recently–have threatened to ban the service completely, but others are just looking to regulate it a little better. That was Quebec’s intention when they put together their new conditions to allow Uber to operate in Montreal. Uber isn’t happy about them and has threatened to pull out of the city if the government sticks by these new policies. The pilot project that allows the company to operate in Montreal is up for renewal on October 14 so a deal needs to be made before then. It doesn’t look like either side will be backing down.
The government’s ask doesn’t appear to be unreasonable, though. They are just looking to bring Uber standards up to those of Taxi drivers province-wide. The new rules would have Uber drivers complete 35 hours of driver training and police background checks. Uber currently has drivers do 20 hours of training and runs background checks through a private company. So these things are mostly happening already, but the government is looking to make them more transparent and a little more intense. It’s slightly concerning that Uber would rather pull out of the city than add 15 hours of training for drivers.
The company claims their reasons are that the new regulations don’t match their business model. A lot of their drivers have part-time or full-time jobs which would make adding additional training time more difficult. The general manager for Uber Quebec, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, says that while the company wants to meet the regulations set in the regions in which they operate, they’ll be forced to pull out if they find they’re unable to.
‘We have the responsibility to respect the regulations that are in place. What we are saying today is that we want to continue respecting them, but if by respect them it shuts us down, we cannot continue to operate,’ Guillemette said.
For Uber users, the most concerning thing here is probably that the company wants to keep their safety precautions so private. Sure, police background checks and extra training aren’t in the current business model, but they seem like perfectly reasonable safety regulations to the people who are putting their lives in the hands of strangers every time they use the app.