By Alastair Sharp and Anna Mehler Paperny
TORONTO (Reuters) – Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] said on Tuesday it will stop operating in the Canadian province of Quebec next month, pulling out to avoid following tough new regulations announced last week.
Uber is withdrawing from Canada’s second-most populous province as it also battles a decision to strip the company of its license to operate in London, the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on Uber as new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi seeks to rebuild the company’s image.
Uber’s Quebec general manager, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, said the company would cease operations in the province on Oct. 14.
Uber employs more than 50 office workers in the province, where more than 10,000 drivers have worked for the company, he said.
The company left room to reverse its decision, calling on the government to reconsider regulations announced on Friday that tightened up the rules of a pilot project that had let Uber operate since October last year.
“We’re asking the government to renew the pilot project and let’s sit down and find a solution to this,” Guillemette said.
A spokesman for Quebec’s transport minister said the province would not budge on new rules requiring drivers to undergo 35 hours of training and to have their criminal background checks validated by Quebec police instead of third parties.
During the pilot, Uber drivers were ticketed for not identifying their vehicles, driving cars that were too old, and accepting rides hailed off the street, while some were also found to have criminal records, said Mathieu Gaudreault, spokesman for Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s minister for transportation.
“We can negotiate with them, but not on the basis of those two things,” Gaudreault said.
He said Uber had paid the province around C$7 million ($5.68 million) in fees during the pilot which would fund efforts to modernize the province’s taxi industry.
Taxi operators have opposed Uber’s presence in Quebec, sometimes blocking traffic during protests in Montreal.
The move affects Quebec cities including Montreal, the country’s second-largest city, and Quebec City. It does not affect operations in other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.
Uber does not operate in Vancouver or Winnipeg, due to a lack of provincial regulation in the provinces of British Colombia and Manitoba, respectively.
Uber rival Lyft, which operates only in the United States at present, has started exploring a move north of the border. Its lobbyists have met several times with municipal officials in Toronto, according to city records.
(Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Jim Finkle and Matthew Lewis)