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Image credit: Reuters/Christinne Muschi

Uber vows to leave Quebec over tougher regulations

It can't work around regulations this time.
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Reuters/Christinne Muschi

Uber appears to be making its second big exit in as many weeks. The ridesharing company intends to shut down operations in the Canadian province of Quebec if stricter rules are implemented for the October 14th renewal of a pilot project that lets Uber run in the region. Quebec wants drivers to go through the same 35 hours of training as a conventional taxi driver, get background checks from police (not private companies as they do today) and go through vehicle inspections once every year. Uber had already threatened to leave if it was regulated like taxis, so it's clearly willing to follow through on this promise.

It's possible that Uber is using the withdrawal as a bargaining chip, hoping that it'll see a repeat of its Austin situation where legislators reverse the regulation. When we asked Uber for comment, it focused on its core argument, contending that the new regulations would be "onerous" and that its service was proven "safe and reliable" through the first phase of the pilot. You can read the full statement below. No matter the reasoning, it's notable that Uber isn't choosing to stay and fight, and doesn't have a way of circumventing the rules -- it's packing up and leaving if its terms aren't met.

If there's no last-minute agreement, it could be costly for Uber. Quebec has a population of roughly 8.2 million at last check, or roughly a quarter of the total Canadian population. That's not the hugest loss for Uber on an international level, but it's akin to losing a very large city in one fell swoop. Clearly, Uber would rather take that hit than risk setting a precedent where other governments can demand tougher regulations.

"The Ministry of Transportation has proposed new regulations that will considerably impact the lives of thousands of driver partners who wish to work on their own schedule and which will, if implemented, prevent Uber from continuing operations in Quebec as early as October 14.

Over the past year, Uber has been operating in Québec under a government pilot project, which was a huge success. Hundreds of thousands of riders have taken millions of safe rides thanks to the incredible community of driver partners and the technology that makes the Uber app such a safe and reliable way for Quebecers to get around their communities.

Given the success of the pilot project, we were disappointed that the government now wants to add new rules that rely on old administrative practices rather than renewing the project in full and supporting technology and consumer choice. Among other things, the proposed rules would impose onerous training obligations developed for a different industry on ridesharing drivers, without taking into account the benefits that come with new technology such as in-app safety features, GPS tracking of every trip, a two-way rating system, and 24/7 support."

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