Driving lesson

City approves Toronto Driving School as mandatory training provider for VTC drivers

The City of Toronto says it has approved its first accredited provider of standardized training for new VTC drivers.

The AMB Driving School will offer a mandatory training program for rental vehicle drivers from next month. The announcement comes after the city council decided in July 2019 that mandatory training was needed following a fatal accident involving an Uber driver the previous year.

Now drivers must demonstrate they have completed the course and will be required to submit a certificate of completion as part of their rideshare license applications, which would make them eligible to drive for companies like Uber, Lyft and Facedrive.

“The city has strict licensing requirements for drivers of rental vehicles to ensure the safety of passengers, drivers and the public,” the city said in a news release Wednesday.

In July 2019, the council amended its hire vehicle registration regulations to ensure the introduction of mandatory training for all hire vehicle drivers. But the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed its implementation.

A view of the UBER app is seen on an iPhone in Toronto. (Carlos Osorio/CBC)

The Board considered the matter again in November when it ordered staff to temporarily stop issuing licenses to new rental vehicle drivers until the mandatory program is in place.

“New driver training will focus on improving driver awareness of Vision Zero [the city’s program to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities]safe passenger transportation, urban driving, anti-racism and discrimination, and legal requirements,” the city said in the statement.

The program will include in-person, virtual and in-car elements. Drivers should contact the AMB Driving School directly to enroll in the training program. The program will cost $250 to complete.

“City Ambassadors”

Shafique Malik, owner of the AMB driving school, said on Wednesday the training will cover basic skills and defensive driving, with an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It will also teach drivers to be ambassadors for the city. He said training will begin May 3 at four locations with more than 100 instructors.

“We are delighted to learn that we are the first company accredited to deliver the courses for rental vehicle drivers,” he said. “We are excited to start classes.”

Malik said the city approached the school before the pandemic. He said the school developed the program last year with help from five other companies.

Com. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, says the training is necessary to keep passengers safe. (Spencer Gallichan-Lowe/CBC News)

Com. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, said drivers of commercial vehicles picking up passengers should know how to operate vehicles safely.

“None of us would ever get on a bus or a streetcar without understanding that the TTC would have properly trained its drivers before giving them the responsibility of carrying human life,” she said.

“It’s no different if you’re a passenger in an Uber or a Lyft. You want your driver to be properly trained, know the rules of the road, know how to handle the car in urban conditions as well as on a fast highway.”

Uber calls approval ‘an important step forward’

Uber said in a statement Wednesday that safety is at the heart of the company and it is encouraging that the city has approved a training provider.

“This is an important step forward so drivers can complete their training and hit the road, unlock flexible earning opportunities, help reduce wait times and provide safe and affordable journeys for everyone. Torontonians,” the statement read.

The city says it expects more approved training providers to be added to its roster over the next month. More information about the program can be found on the city’s website here.