Vancouver city council decided in a nearly unanimous vote Wednesday night to keep rideshare services like Uber out of the city for at least another year.
Councillor Geoff Meggs brought forward the motion to extend a one-year moratorium on issuing new taxi licenses until October 17 of 2017, which also means Uber won’t be able to set foot in Vancouver until then.
Meggs agreed that there is a need to change the way taxis and ride-for-hire services in the city operate, but he said that there needs to be further review from the BC government before they can issue new licenses or allow Uber onto Vancouver’s streets.
“I think there’s unanimous view that there needs to be a change and improvement and an increase in taxi and ride-for-hire services in the city,” said Meggs.
“What we haven’t been able to agree upon, in spite of the round table the city launched, which had provincial involvement, was the decision from the province that would protect the assets we have in terms of our strong taxi industry,” he said, adding he hopes the provincial review will be shorter than they’re anticipating.
Earlier this year, the BC government signalled it was reevaluating its position on Uber, saying it was only a “matter of time” before rideshare services are introduced into the local market. Shortly after, it started consultations on rideshare with the public, industry groups, and stakeholders, and the results were recently shared with all stakeholders that provided input.
One of the largest and most vocal groups against regulation changes that permit ridesharing is, of course, the Vancouver Taxi Association, the group that represents the local taxi oligopoly held by four taxi companies – Black Top Checker Cabs, Maclures Cabs, Vancouver Taxi, and Yellow Cab.
Vancouver is currently the largest city in North America to operate without Uber.
“It still blows my mind that when I get off a plane in Vancouver, I can’t use Uber,” the company’s chief advisor David Plouff told the the audience at a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) event on October 12.
Other Canadian cities that have rideshare services include Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, with the ride share service operating in Quebec under a pilot project.
But even though British Columbians are still unable to use rideshare schemes, that hasn’t stopped them from signing up for services like Uber. Indeed Uber says it already has more than 200,000 registered users in the province, people who have signed up and used the service in other cities around the world.