Uber drivers will now need police background checks before they drive in Regina
REGINA -- Drivers for Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber in Regina will now need to get the appropriate background, criminal record and vulnerable sector checks through the police before they can start working.
Drivers will be required to have the checks done no earlier than 90 days before they start driving. The change will take effect on April 1, 2021, with the intent of keeping drivers from offering their services until they get their background checks – essentially mirroring what taxi drivers must go through.
Up until the change was made on Wednesday, Uber drivers in Regina were allowed to use a criminal record check performed by any law enforcement agency. A vulnerable sector check was not required.
The Regina Police Service (RPS) was provided a list of all drivers affiliated with TNC’s at the beginning of each month, and would then complete a secondary review of the driver. RPS said that meant drivers could be on the road for several weeks before RPS got a chance to see if the driver is facing charges.
"I believe it's more of a streamlined process, and the same agency is now looking from start to finish. I think it's more comprehensive and I believe it's where council is most comfortable," Mayor of Regina Sandra Masters said.
According to a review, there have been zero complaints against drivers since TNC’s were allowed in Regina in February 2019. Regina police have suspended five TNC drivers from the platform since May 15, 2019 and eight taxi drivers during the same period.
The review found the total for-hire transportation trips of both taxi’s and TNC’s, increased by 13 per cent in 2019. The number of annual taxi trips decreased by 4.5 per cent and made up 85 per cent of the total trips provided in the city. Companies like Uber provided the remaining 15 per cent of the market share.
Council also approved the distribution of funds gathered from the surcharge placed on each TNC trip. The City charges a seven cent accessibility fee per trip, and collected approximately $35,200 as of December 31, 2020. Council agreed to use the money to reimburse the annual licence fee of $375 to each accessible taxicab owner, and to provide a rebate to accessible taxicab owners and drivers that provide taxi services for Regina Paratransit.
Council also discussed the possibility of forcing TNC vehicles to have cameras installed.
"I think it wasn't part of the recommendation but it was a request of council for information on some of the background. So it wasn't a part of the recommendation, I don't think they were prepared to move that forward at this time," Masters said.
Glen Sali from Capital Cabs expressed to council that he believes cameras should be mandatory for both taxi’s and TNC’s.
Public policy manager for western Canada at Uber, Yanique Williams, said the Uber app has a 24/7 incident report feature and police can request data through the app. She said putting cameras in TNC’s puts another monetary requirement on drivers and the vehicles are also used for personal reasons, which leads to privacy issues.
Council decided to ask for a review of the regulations in relation to safety, cameras, the accessibility fee and criminal record checks. The review is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2023.
UPASS FOR SIIT STUDENTS
Council approved a two-year transit agreement with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) during Wednesday's meeting.
Students will be able to access a UPass program starting in September. The pass will only be active during the fall and winter semesters.
SIIT will set student fees base on the price of the program from the transit department.
SIIT would be expected to pay two lump sums 60 days after each semester in the fall and winter. The first year is expected to cost SIIT around $36,000.
Council also approved a $60 million loan for the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant, and an efficiency review for the city's operations that would cost up to $250,000.