Uber To Cease Operations In Quebec

Just days after Uber lost its license to operate in London, the online ride-hailing service that has been at the centre of various controversies and scandals for the past year, announced it would cease operations in Quebec as of Oct. 14. According to the Montreal Gazette, the final straw for Uber, which has been negotiating with the Quebec government for months in an effort to co-exist with the taxi industry, reportedly was a government demand that its drivers submit to a 35-hour training program already imposed on taxi drivers.

Uber reportedly felt such a program was incompatible with its business model, which relies on part-time drivers who would presumably not be ready to undertake the course. Other government demands included mandatory vehicle inspections every 12 months and background checks on drivers performed by police rather than a private firm.

In short, all hurdles that the company decided were a dealbreaker for its future operations.

As the Gazette adds, the stage seemed to be set for some kind of push back from Uber last Friday, after Quebec Transport minister Laurent Lessard announced the new conditions, describing them as merely an extension of a year-old pilot project permitted under the current rules.

That led Uber Quebec spokesperson Jean-Christophe de le Rue to accuse the government of adhering to “new and challenging regulations that favour old policies instead of incorporating the benefits of new technology … based on our current understanding, these changes significantly threaten Uber‘s ability to continue operating in Quebec.”

The measures came after a year of discussions with the taxi industry, which resulted in 19 recommendations to Lessard. But those discussions followed a series of public splits and policy reversals within the Quebec Liberal government over whether Über could co-exist with the province’s taxi industry.

In May of 2016, the youth wing of the Quebec Liberal Party and some business groups criticized the government’s lukewarm or sometimes hostile attitude toward the ride-hailing service, and while the Couillard government and then Transport minister Jacques Daoust took a tough line with the service, insisting drivers obtain Class 4C driver’s licences and taxi permits, those conditions were eventually dropped and a pilot project developed to try and marry Uber’s business model within the existing taxi industry.

According to the Gazette, Uber has been making waves for the taxi industry and the Couillard government since it became a part of Montreal’s transportation landscape in 2015. The taxi industry complained Uber was engaging in unfair competition, since its drivers didn’t hold expensive permits required of taxi drivers, some of which sold on the second-hand market for nearly $200,000.

Reacting to the news, a coalition of taxi owners said the government must not bend to Uber’s threats to pull out if it doesn’t get its way. “Uber is not obliged to cease operations it is only doing so to frustrate users so they can put pressure on the government,” said Georges Malouf, a spokesperson fort he group. “Once again, instead of negotiating in good faith, Uber prefers to use bullying tactics.”

While the Quebec blowback against Uber may have been many months in the making, with two major markets lost in under one week, one wonders which city will be next, and where the biggest transportation disruptor to emerge in recent years will itself be disrupted as legacy service providers and local politicians continue to push back against the deflation-creating and money-losing company.


Buckaroo Banzai Francis Marx Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:16 Permalink

Economically speaking, Uber is a piece of shit and deserves to die. Is regulatory arbitrage now what passes for "value creation"? Fucking pathetic.Don't like your local taxi and limousine regulations? Then figure out a way to change them. IMO, frankly there's a lot worse uses for local government than regulating taxi service. Does it make it more expensive? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Constructively limiting competition and regulating vendor behavior can actually be economically useful.Uber is a "better product" than your local, regulated taxi service because Uber vastly underprices their product to kill their regulated competition, while simultaneously financially deceiving their drivers, by underpaying them and pushing a huge amount of cost and risk onto them-- cost and risk that the idiot drivers are ill-equipped to evaluate or understand given that they are economically illiterate part-time amateurs.Uber is just one more symptom of the stupid clown world economy that out-of-control fiat jewbux printing has created.

In reply to by Francis Marx

Buckaroo Banzai Francis Marx Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:23 Permalink

Go back and read what I wrote. Cab costs are "through the ceiling" because its a fucking expensive business. Every time you get into a cab, you are paying for a car AND a driver.Uber has "lower prices" and "better quality" because their services are not properly priced, and their employees are not properly compensated. It is a giant money-losing scheme designed to drive their competition out of business.Both the local taxicab business, and the national rental car business, are on the verge of collapse thanks to Uber's predatory pricing and economically illiterate drivers.Uber rates will literally triple once the competition has been wiped out, assuming of course Uber doesn't financially collapse first--which in a just world, it would.You can take that to the fucking bank.

In reply to by Francis Marx

Buckaroo Banzai RagaMuffin Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:12 Permalink

Corruption is endemic to the human condition. Some kinds of people seem to be more corrupt than others. Sometimes those kinds are recognizable from a distance, if you know what I'm saying.It's pretty well known that Uber causes massive traffic jams in San Francisco. This is one of the reasons why taxi services were regulated in the first place. Is it really in the public interest that the public streets be jammed with freelance drivers hustling to make a buck? No easy answers, but people who act like Uber is some kind of magic bullet money-tree solution to what are age-old public transportation problems that will always be with us, are delusional.

In reply to by RagaMuffin

Buckaroo Banzai Onan_the_Barbarian Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:15 Permalink

We can agree on that. But replacing one set of problems with another set of problems isn't really progress. Trading a system of local control (local taxicabs regulated by local jurisdictions) for a system of national-level oligopoly control (Uber and Lyft sewing up the national car-based transportation network) doesn't sound like a good idea tbh.

In reply to by Onan_the_Barbarian

Buckaroo Banzai Francis Marx Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:52 Permalink

Because they are economically illiterate? And because in Clown World, a terrible job that gives you the illusion of being a good job, is better than no job, or a shitty corporate job with no future?Driver turnover is a huge problem for Uber. There are a lot of "former" Uber drivers for a reason--eventually they figure out that the numbers don't pencil out.Lyft at least allows passengers to tip their drivers, which is helping them attract and retain drivers, at least in the short run. But when you underpay your drivers by 50%, a 15% tip isn't going to make a meaningful difference in the long run.

In reply to by Francis Marx

Augustus Buckaroo Banzai Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:41 Permalink

Uber allows individuals to become voluntary part time workers who determine their own schedule.  The people who choose to do it, and continue to do it, are not particularly stupid.  If they had opportunities to earn brain surgeon incomes by performing an operation upon you, I expect they would do that instead. As to the pricing of Uber services, I note that Uber has been and continues to be a money pit with continuing large losses at the corporate level.  Seems unsustainable to me.  The individual drivers must find it rewarding enough to continue to pick up the passengers.

In reply to by Buckaroo Banzai

sparksmass Buckaroo Banzai Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:45 Permalink

Uber fares are only slightly lower than taxis in most markets, and in some cases more expensive.  How is 'constructively' limiting competition a good thing for consumers?  It's Uber's fault that people that want to work for them are stupid?  Entrenched taxi cartel with 'medallions' or 'licenses' going for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or over a million in some cases, does nothing for consumers and needs to be shaken up.

In reply to by Buckaroo Banzai

Buckaroo Banzai sparksmass Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:01 Permalink

But you miss the point. No, it's not Uber's fault that their drivers are stupid, but eventually those drivers are going to either smarten up and quit, or wind up both broke and stupid, and that'll be the end of that. At least until Uber manages to drive rental car businesses and local taxicabs out of business. Then drivers will be marginally better paid, and the public will be absolutely raped by oligopoly pricing.We can agree that local taxi businesses--and the corrupt and lazy politicians that regulate them-- probably needed a kick in the ass in many jurisdictions. But at least local taxi businesses are economically sustainable, and (via your local politicians) can at least theoretically be held responsible to the public interest.Regulating common carriers is just common sense. Yes there will be some inefficiency and corruption, as there is in any human endeavor involving government. But very careful of the alternative. We are seeing the consequences of unregulated common carriers in the internet right now, as Twitter, FaceBook, and ICANN have proven to be extremely abusive and onerous monopolies.

In reply to by sparksmass

porcsale Buckaroo Banzai Tue, 09/26/2017 - 17:16 Permalink

You make good points. The thing with the taxi industry in Quebec though is that the number of taxi licenses there are is fixed. This was a prime opportunity for the government to use the leverage Uber was providing them to abolish the current system of taxi licenses.It's not normal to have to take a mortgage to drive a cab (in Quebec, you have to buy your license from someone and it's often more than 130,000$). It's only pushing prices up so that a very small number of people can profit from the work of others.Uber has problematic pratices but the attitude of the government is worse here. They're essentially bargaining the support ($$$) of a few very wealthy license owners against the welfare of consumers.  

In reply to by Buckaroo Banzai

FringeImaginigs Francis Marx Tue, 09/26/2017 - 13:06 Permalink

Every business works within society. It is fully proper that the government regulate activities for the best interests of all its citizens. Having a minor training program, proper background checks and regular inspection of vehicles is hardly an operessive measure. No, Uber would rather have untrained drivers, uninspected vehicles and questionable background checks. That's hardly an advance in technology. It is a regression in our societal standards. 

In reply to by Francis Marx

garypaul Francis Marx Wed, 09/27/2017 - 00:15 Permalink

“new and challenging regulations that favour old policies instead of incorporating the benefits of new technology..."Well, they're not really new, but more to the point:Does the pilot of the newest jet fighter plane need to fear an old outdated jet fighter? If so, there's something wrong with the newest fighter plane.(a sloppy analogy but I think you get the point)

In reply to by Francis Marx

FatTony7915726 Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:33 Permalink

Larent Lessard , the Minister of Transport in Quebec is the most incompetent person ever.  He was responsible for the Highway 13 blockage with a snowstorm that trapped more than 300 cars for 48 hours causing death and injuries.  He and his Transport Quebec minions messed up so big, that tow trucks and snow plows could not get to the trapped drivers!  Laurent Lessard is the most hated Minister in Quebec!!!  Laurent Lessard went to bed the night of the storm which was a major storm.  Instead of being in a command center with Transport management, he went to bed and counted sheep.  Very poor Emergency Management Administration on his behalf! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUa1VwXt33U

Expat Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:02 Permalink

This anti-Uber movement is pathetic.  I live in the most expensive taxi city in my country.  I also lived in the UK for a long time.  Uber is a god-send.  Sure, the drivers are not trained as well as black cab drivers, but who cares?  Every single Uber I have taken has been equipped with GPS.  Every driver has been courteous and professional.  And it costs one-quarter to one-half regular fare. All the press about Uber drivers raping, robbing and murdering are bullshit.  I had friends in NYC who were robbed by cab drivers, something about as rare as an Uber driver robbing a customer.Whether or not the business model works is another story.  sorry to see the forces of monopoly and bribery killing off an interesting busness.

Buckaroo Banzai Expat Tue, 09/26/2017 - 12:30 Permalink

>And it costs one-quarter to one-half regular fare.Those low fares are being subsidized by a multi-billion-dollar venture capital (((war chest))).Let's see how long those "low fares" last once the competition has been wiped out. And don't tell me that Lyft is "competition". There's going to be room for two or three national rideshare companies at most, and once they have crushed the rental car and independent local taxi companies, you'll see oligopoly pricing that will literally make your teeth hurt.Why is this so difficult for people to understand?

In reply to by Expat