Photo cred - Iana Kazakova

Since the October arrival of uberX in Montreal, the app-based transportation service has faced a wealth of controversy. Denis Coderre called it illegal within hours of it going live, and cab drivers around the city have bemoaned the service’s imposition on their business. Yesterday morning, close to 100 cabbies staged a protest in Pointe St-Charles in opposition to it.

Of course, there are legitimate arguments to be made against uberX. As Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poëti and others have noted, it violates the province’s current transport laws. It’s hard not to feel at least a twinge of sympathy for the cabbies whose business has been hurt by the service. The informal nature of it, particularly in comparison with “legitimate” taxis, raises security issues.

However, despite the concerns, there’s no doubt that allowing uberX to operate freely in the city is what’s best for Montrealers. According to the company, rides from the service typically cost 20 to 30 per cent less than normal cab fares, letting customers save money. The company has an agreement with the RCMP for conducting criminal background checks, limiting safety concerns.

Furthermore, it’s not like traditional cabs have worked particularly well for Montrealers. Last year, the police investigated 17 cases of sexual assault in taxis. The process to become a driver involves obtaining a permit, completing 150 hours of training, and passing background checks, but it clearly hasn’t been enough to keep taxis safe. UberX has had its share of problems, but it’s proved to be a more reliable way for Montrealers to get around the city.

Overall, what’s best for the city is to allow the service to compete with traditional taxis. Montrealers should be allowed to choose the service that works best for them, and, increasingly, that’s proved to be uberX.

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