The North Bay Police Service has officially approved the amended taxi bylaw to allow ride-sharing companies to operate alongside taxis within the city.
The “vehicle for hire private transportation choice bylaw” was approved by the Police Services Board in December and will begin the application of the bylaw in the coming weeks.
Police Chief Scott Tod says the two-and-a-half-year project required police and city staff to consider numerous angles to allow ride-sharing companies into the city.
“How do we create a bylaw that’s fair, modern and, the most important part from a police service’s perspective, something that provided a safe environment for not only the customers but for the companies that operate within North Bay,” Tod explained following Tuesday’s board meeting.
The new bylaw will allow companies like Uber and U-Ride to apply for applications to have employees and vehicles registered through the city specifically as “vehicles for hire”.
Drivers for the companies will have to pay an application fee, plus have a maintained vehicle and clean background. A sticker will be provided to drivers to be displayed on their license plates to identify them as vehicles for hire.
Tod says North Bay police will be keeping an eye on who is becoming a driver for hire when the applications begin rolling in.
“A lot of companies do background work on their drivers and background work on their vehicles. We have provisions within our bylaw to check in with those records,” he confirmed.
As communities across the province have adopted similar bylaws to allow ride-sharing companies to operate, Tod says he had to consider how to create a good environment for both taxis and ride-sharing companies.
“If they understand the bylaw as it is written and believe that it is fair for all of them in a competitive environment, I think I would be satisfied with that,” he commented.
Tod adds that ride-sharing companies have been something the public has requested to be seen in the city.
“I think there’s certainly a greater variety in what’s available for the public to consider. Some people were looking for the convenience of using their mobile phone and a credit card with a pre-established company. We heard that from the public in regard to North Bay having that opportunity in comparison to other communities,” Tod noted.
In the coming months, Tod expects there to be some issues that arise from the implementation of the new bylaw.
“I do think we’ll have a lot of questions in the next six months in regards to the application of the bylaw and things that we may not have foreseen when we drafted the bylaw,” Tod said. “I don’t anticipate anything that’s going to be difficult for us to work with.”
Tod says police have also set up an online option for prospective ride-share employees to go through the application process.
New drivers-for-hire should begin to be seen around the city in the coming months, Tod expects.