BUSINESS

UberX Drivers Blocked, Intimidated By 2 Montreal Cabbies

04/07/2015 08:40 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT
Stefan Jaitner/DPA
ILLUSTRATION- A man holds an iphone in his hands which features the logo of cab driving company 'UBER', as he stand next to a Taxi call box in Berlin, Germany, 3 March 2015. UBER has caused a stirr amongst licensed and established Taxi enterprises as UBER's drivers are accused of anticompetitive practice and not adhearing to regulations. In several cities in Germany, taxi entrepreneurs have managed to obtain several judicial decisions which limit UBER's business practices. Photo: Stefan Jaitner/dpa - NO WIRE SERVICE -
A passenger who witnessed a confrontation between a pair of Montreal taxi drivers and two UberX drivers says he's still not dissuaded from using the popular car-sharing service.

Alexandre Meterissian called for an UberX from the corner of Sherbrooke Street and St-Laurent Boulevard one early afternoon last week.

But when he got into the back seat of the car, he said, a cab driver drove in front of the UberX and blocked it from leaving.

Meterissian told CBC Daybreak on Tuesday that the taxi driver launched into a tirade, calling the UberX driver a scab and threatening to call the police.

He said that a second cab driver blocked the UberX car when his driver tried to get away.

Meterissian said he settled his bill with the driver, got out and called a second UberX car — an SUV this time — from across the street.

He said the cab drivers attempted to block the SUV as well, but failed when the vehicle got up onto the sidewalk to get away. He said the entire altercation took about 15 minutes.

Kamal Sabbah of the Montreal Taxi Owners' Association said he doesn't condone what the taxi drivers did, but understands why they did it.

"Ninety-five per cent of taxi drivers and owners, they're doing a very good job," he said on Daybreak. "This is how they feed their families."

UberX is currently operating in a grey zone in Quebec. Mayor Denis Coderre and Transport Minister Robert Poëti say the service is illegal, and Montreal police have impounded cars used for UberX purposes.

Yet UberX continues to operate in Montreal, and Uber officials have said they have no intention of stopping.

The company has asked the province to make clear rules about car sharing.

There are currently about 4,000 licensed cab drivers in Montreal, according to Sabbah.

The introduction of Uber to Montreal has been a hotly debated topic at the municipal and provincial levels, with cab drivers going on the offensive by saying the service is compromising their ability to make a living.

Meterissian said that for customers like him, traditional taxi services just aren't cutting it in terms of quality. He said they should take the opportunity to adapt and offer better service.

"Uber is offering a fantastic service, and I just hope that taxi drivers, instead of just fighting the system, will actually offer a service that is better or at least equal quality to Uber," he said.

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