Ride-hailing companies have made it easier to get around city, says Toronto resident

A Toronto resident who uses an electric wheelchair says new companies in the vehicle-for-hire business in the city have improved the customer experience for people who rely on taxis for transportation.

Ayesha Zubair, who works full-time and studies part-time, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Tuesday that having transportation options is a good thing. She is an advocate for greater accessibility.

“The TTC isn’t still fully accessible. Even there, there are some barriers,” she said. “There’s a lot to do in a day. So it really helps to have taxis and ride-sharing services available as a way to get around the city.”

Zubair’s comments come as the city wraps its public consultations on the bylaw that governs the licensing of vehicles for hire in Toronto.

“Generally, because there are more options available, I believe overall the customer service experience has actually improved quite a bit,” she added.

Today is last day for feedback on vehicle-for-hire bylaw

Residents have until the end of the day on Tuesday to have their say.

The bylaw regulates the operation of taxicabs, limousines and private companies, such as Lyft and Uber, while the review covers such topics accessibility, vehicle equipment and safety.

Earlier this year, the city held a series of consultations on the issue.

As for the TTC’s Wheels-Trans service, Zubair said it has to be booked in advance and life cannot always be planned.

“That makes it very difficult,” she said. “Sometimes things come up as the day goes on. And so having the ability to be able to react and navigate with my life is really a freedom.”

When she decides to hire a driver, she said she thinks about insurance, personal safety and how drivers are treated by their employers. These considerations matter when customers make choices, she said.

“I haven’t had any incidences where I haven’t been treated with respect,” she said.

She said navigating the city is challenging, especially in winter, but ride-hailing services make a difference.

The bylaw has been a source of controversy since council decided in 2016 to shelve safety training for both taxis and vehicle-for-hire drivers.

That move came amid heated discussions about regulations that govern the ride-hailing app Uber.

A report is expected to be presented to the city’s general government and licensing committee in June. The city says “feedback will be used to inform updates” to the bylaw in the report.

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