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Ride‐hailing's impact on Canadian cities: Now let's consider the long game

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It remains unclear whether the arrival of ride‐hailing is detrimental to congestion. Despite being slightly cheaper than taxis, ride‐hailing services remain significantly more expensive than transit and provide mobility only to those who can afford them. The regulatory framework for ride‐hailing should resemble that of the taxi industry, but should also be supplemented by concessions to encourage ride‐hailing companies to explore sustainable endeavours. A recent dialogue published in The Canadian Geographer on July 2, 2018, caught my attention. In it, the authors debate whether Uber and other ride‐hailing services should be considered beneficial or detrimental to Canadian cities. While addressing several of the uncertainties and misunderstood impacts of ride‐hailing services upon cities, their analysis fails to consider the long‐term implications of this mode of travel on individual travel behaviour and on accessibility. In this response to their piece, I draw attention to the short‐sightedness of their arguments and to the equity concerns excluded from their dialogue. If legalized prematurely, as endorsed by Zwick and Spicer, ride‐hailing services will rapidly become regarded as a convenient and essential service and once established as such, regulating them any further will prove to be politically prohibitive.

Un débat récent publié dans Le Géographe canadien le 2 juillet 2018 a attiré mon attention. Les auteurs discutaient de la question suivante : est‐ce qu'Uber et les autres services de covoiturage commercial devraient être considérés comme étant avantageux ou désavantageux pour les villes canadiennes. En abordant les incertitudes et les incidences méconnues sur les villes des services de covoiturage commercial, leur analyse omet de tenir compte des implications à long terme de ce mode de déplacements sur les comportements liés aux déplacements individuels et sur l'accessibilité. En réaction à leur texte, j'aimerais attirer l'attention des lecteurs sur le caractère réducteur de leur argumentation, laquelle ne tient pas compte des préoccupations concernant l'équité. S'ils sont légalisés dès le départ, comme le suggèrent Zwick et Spicer, les services de covoiturage commercial seront rapidement considérés comme des services communs et essentiels. Par ailleurs, une fois établits, il s'avérera complexe pour les élus de vouloir réglementer ceux‐ci davantage.
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Keywords: Uber; accessibilité; affordability; congestion; covoiturage commercial; ride‐hailing; safety; sécurité

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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