Subject: Open Letter to Toronto Mayoral Candidates re. sustainable transportation
Date: May 18, 2023
City climate goals undermined by actions to encourage car use:
RideFair Coalition calling on Toronto’s Mayoral Candidates to revise City policy to encourage sustainable transportation, not greater car dependency
TransformTO, Toronto’s climate action plan, calls for 75% of school and work trips under 5 km to be walked, biked or on transit by 2030. Achieving this goal requires strong leadership, a clear plan and difficult choices. Unfortunately, under Mayor Tory, Toronto City Council undermined climate goals by de-regulating the taxi industry, removing emissions standards, and promoting private car use through ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. The City’s current transportation plan, MoveTO, and is more focused on moving existing motor traffic faster than on promoting more sustainable modes of transportation; its Vehicle-for-Hire Net Zero approach focuses only on fleet electrification without addressing increasing car dependency, congestion and road safety or driver precarity.
The RideFair Coalition is calling on Toronto’s Mayoral candidates to commit to ensuring that City policies reflect its climate goals and reduce car dependency by regulating ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft and promoting truly sustainable transportation alternatives.
Across North America, research has shown that under-regulated ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft promote car ownership, add to traffic congestion, increase conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians and collision counts, convert public transit use into private car trips (clearly demonstrated in Toronto), and increase GHG emissions and air pollutants. Company commitments to electrify their fleets are no substitute for a comprehensive government-led decarbonization plan. On the one hand, Uber neither owns cars nor pays its drivers enough to afford EV leases. On the other, an unrestricted supply of Uber and Lyft cars ends up moving passengers out of publicly owned and funded transit into private cars and shifts fares away from public transit agencies and into the pocket of a tax-avoiding corporation and its shareholders.
There are already too many cars on the road, but City policy is encouraging more people to drive. Before the pandemic, Toronto licensed close to 90,000 ride-share drivers, more than New York City despite only being a third the size. Drivers compete for business to such a degree that 50% of drivers’ time is spent driving without a passenger, unpaid, between trips. This inefficiency doesn’t help drivers earn an income or promote sustainable transportation. All it does is increase traffic, emissions, and conflicts among road users, which further demotivates Torontonians to cycle or walk even to a bus stop.
We know what a sustainable mobility system looks like. People need to be able to move freely and easily around the entire city, not just downtown, on public transit, with mobility devices, on bike or on foot. If we continue to help cars move faster and flood the streets with ride-hailing drivers, Toronto risks missing its climate targets, as well as opportunities to build safer streets and more accessible, sustainable and equitable communities.
An Uber-driven city is not a sustainable city. Under-regulated ride-hailing companies take us away from affordable and low-carbon modes of transportation and increase our reliance on precarious work and private cars.
Join us to call for a review of the City’s transportation plans, including the City’s demand management strategy and Vehicle-for-Hire emissions reduction strategy, to ensure that we prioritize modes of transportation that lead us away from car dependency. Without strong action, the current plan increases our reliance on private cars, including inefficient ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.