The BC government has officially announced it will open the door to allow rideshare companies to apply for operation in BC under to the Passenger Transportation Board by this September.
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On Monday, the province said the new regulations are intended to provide a framework for what companies can expect in advance of applying to the Passenger Transportation Board.
The suite of regulations enables the board to begin accepting applications from companies seeking to provide commercial ride-hailing in BC, effective September 3, 2019.
Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn MA said the regulations “do not determine, supply, boundaries, and fare rates charged to passengers.”
Those matters, she furthered, “are the exclusive responsibility of the the independent Passenger Transportation Board.” Decisions on those topics are expected “this summer.”
The focus of the regulations introduced on Monday “is company and driver safety…intended to provide a framework for interested ride-hail companies so that they know what to expect in advance of applying to the Board,” said Ma.
The province said ICBC will have its new insurance product ready for the launch of ride-hailing in September. The new product is described as a blanket, per-kilometre insurance product providing compulsory, third-party liability, and accident benefits.
The blanket insurance will apply when the driver is providing ride-hailing services, with the driver’s own basic vehicle insurance policy applying in all other instances. It also provides an option for peer-to-peer rental companies to purchase insurance coverage on behalf of vehicle owners who rent their vehicles through a peer-to-peer platform. Insurance rates for this new insurance product will use a daily rate.
All regulations will be in force on September 16, 2019, to support full implementation of ride-hailing services after the board decides on the applications it receives. If applications are approved by that date, rideshare vehicles could potentially be on BC roads that same month.
“We fully expect that people will be able to hail a ride… by the end of this year,” said Ma.
Three factors on license decisions
The province said the PTB must consider three factors when making decisions on licences. The first factor, is there a public need for the service, has been determined. A report on the board’s website, titled TNS Industry: Public Need in BC, demonstrates there is a public need for the service. A second factor, whether or not the applicant is sound, fit and capable of providing the service, will be decided on an application by application basis.
Starting July 9, the board will undertake consultations with the taxi and transportation network service industry on the third factor: sound economic conditions. The key factors under the board’s mandate affecting sound economic conditions are the setting of operating areas, fleet sizes and rates.
“It was important that we didn’t just open the doors to new services without revealing how introducing a new transportation system business model would affect the passenger transportation regime,” said Ma. “We believe that we’ve struck the right balance by acknowledging the current industry, ensuring safety, but most of all, giving people more choice.”
Ride-hailing regulatory framework
- Class 4 licence requirement: Government will require all ride-hail drivers and taxis to hold a commercial Class 4 driver licence.
- Criminal and driver record checks: A driver cannot have four or more pointable convictions within two years or any serious driving infractions within a three-year timeframe.
- Illegal operators: Fines of up to $100,000 per day. The registrar has the authority to issue administrative penalties up to $50,000 to licensed operators who fail to meet regulatory obligations. Seven new record check related offences have also been created.
- Accessibility: A new 30-cent “per-trip” fee for non-accessible ride-hailing vehicles is being established to support funding for accessibility programs. New regulations will allow for accessible vehicles with side entry as well as rear entry that will provide more choice for the disability community.
- Vehicle operations: Taxis and ride-hail vehicles will be required to undergo an annual inspection if the vehicle has logged 40,000 kilometres or less in the previous year. A semi-annual inspection will be required if vehicles log more than 40,000 kms or more in the previous year. Ride-hail vehicles cannot be older than 10 years to operate.
Regulations ‘unnecessary red tape’
BC’s Transportation Minister said her government’s plan “has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry.”
But in response to Monday’s announcement, Lyft Canada Managing Director Aaron Zifkin called the regulations “unnecessary red tape that could leave British Columbians with a lesser version of ridesharing than their neighbours across North America.”
He noted that Lyft does not currently operate ridesharing in any jurisdiction that requires drivers to change their driver’s licence to a commercial (Class 4) driver’s licence.
“Requiring commercial Class 4 licences for drivers will not improve safety but will increase wait times and benefit the taxi industry,” he said. “Our goal is to provide the same proven transportation network enjoyed in Ontario and the US to BC.”