Uber warns that operating ‘market pause’ means higher fares and longer waits

Uber will seek to follow New York City’s lead by freezing all new licence applications while it waits for the courts to sort out its dispute with the Ontario provincial government

Uber has warned that it will raise prices and increase wait times for its drivers if the Ontario government keeps banning it from hiring new drivers.

The California-based ride-hailing firm “appreciates the court’s recognition that the province’s new regulations are unfair and unlawful, and that they prevent drivers from joining the licensed workforce”, the firm said.

The Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, said his company “will now seek to implement the injunction while waiting for the courts to decide the matter”.

He added: “We look forward to a resolution that allows these licensed drivers to share in the economic growth created by Ontario’s flourishing tech industry.”

On Wednesday, Ontario’s highest court upheld the country’s highest court’s ruling that the ride-hailing firm could not expand beyond Toronto without a licence from the government.

The province’s government quickly responded by ordering Uber to halt all operations in the city of Toronto, while the company acted to stop the new operation.

Uber implemented a “market pause” after the Ontario government rejected its application for a permit to operate in the city of Toronto on 11 March. The new service was set to begin on 5 March.

To Uber’s delight, the province’s decision came as its in-court battle with a taxi strike over new laws triggered a vast drop in the number of new Uber users in Toronto and the surrounding area.

Toronto cab strike means thousands can’t go to work Read more

Uber said on Thursday the number of people getting their rides dropped by 80%, or more than 100,000, from the day the strike began on 11 March to the following day.

Uber also said that the number of times it is able to provide a ride for a customer dropped by 87%, or more than 100,000, from 11 March to the following day.

In New York City, in January, Uber halted most of its operations in the city, the most populous in the US, after the state’s highest court ruled that it could not operate in the city without a licence.

Uber has long faced regulatory disputes with government authorities and has faced public concern over working conditions for drivers, the safety of its cars and transportation in cities including New York and San Francisco.

The City Council voted in September 2017 to adopt a new law regulating Uber and its rivals as part of a plan to generate up to $2bn for NYC over five years.

The ride-hailing firm plans to appeal the New York supreme court’s decision but it cannot start the appeal until it has appealed the ruling to the state supreme court.

Uber introduced its carpooling service, UberPool, in 2014. Earlier this year, UberPool began collecting fares in cities including London, Paris and Berlin.

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