Uber warns of price hikes, longer wait times in Toronto after city approves permits freeze

Uber has warned customers of increased prices and longer wait times in Toronto following Toronto’s decision to freeze new licences issued for private car service services in the city in a move the city’s mayor said Thursday could slow the spread of Uber and similar ride-hailing apps.

“We’re highly disappointed in the decision today by the City of Toronto,” Rafael Amador, general manager of Uber Canada, said in a statement Saturday. “We are now facing a world class competitor, who is seeking to expand rapidly while exploiting a broken regulatory system, which will dramatically increase demand and fares for consumers.”

“This decision by the city is poor for Toronto’s economy, poor for affordability, and is bad for the millions of Toronto residents who rely on Uber every day,” Amador said.

The company said Wednesday it plans to go ahead with its previously announced fare increases, saying the city’s decision will make it difficult for Uber drivers to make a living. In a statement, Amador said the company was forced to raise the prices on Wednesday “to ensure drivers have a sustainable source of income.”

“Toronto’s decision means current drivers in Toronto will now be forced to consider finding employment elsewhere, and causing more drivers to stop working for Uber in Toronto,” he said.

Uber said on Wednesday that prices in Toronto are expected to go up by 10 to 20 percent, depending on the city and time of day.

Toronto, where more than 200,000 people use Uber, is the only Canadian city to ban the company and temporarily ban it from operating, after Toronto city council opted earlier this year to support a plan to regulate ride-hailing services.

During the debate over the new regulations, Toronto Mayor John Tory also took a swipe at Uber and ride-hailing apps generally, saying some taxi drivers are desperate for money. He called the rapid growth of ride-hailing apps “a mistake” and said the industry often appears to be riddled with “scammy and dishonest businesses.”

But Tory also warned Toronto’s black-cab industry, which many complained seemed to be getting an unfair advantage, that it was also at risk.

“It is incumbent on the entire ecosystem of ride-hailing and private car services in this city to behave responsibly,” Tory said at the time. “Everyone has a role to play to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are spent effectively and there is a level playing field for all players.”

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