As the topic of ridesharing – or lack thereof – in BC continues to be a point of contention, a recently released report by the province’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) has concluded “there is a public need and desire for ride hailing in the province.”
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The report found that beyond just the public desire for services such as Lyft and Uber, the addition of more transportation options would ease some of the burdens on the taxi industry as a whole.
“There is compelling evidence that taxi service cannot meet peak period public need for vehicles,” the report said.
And while the PTB said it has undertaken some measures to address the undersupply of taxis, supply shortage problems still exist, particularly because “demand fluctuates significantly over the week and by time periods.”
For example, peak demand in Vancouver’s downtown entertainment district on Saturday and Sundays between 2 am and 3 am “is about six times greater than demand for any hour between 10 pm and 1 am on weekends.”
The report, released in late June and entitled Transportation Network Services Industry: Public Need in British Columbia, comes after “a significant amount of work” over the past year-and-a-half including “consultations with the public, with industry and the business community, and input from experts.”
It notes that there is evidence of “strong demand” for ridesharing services, which is “demonstrated consistently in other jurisdictions.”
Ultimately, BC’s “choice of vehicles-for-hire is limited compared to that in other jurisdictions, primarily due to the lack of ride hailing services,” the report said.
Trevena said at the time that the 2019 timeline stems from the need for ICBC to create a specific product for ride hailing insurance, as no such product currently exists, and this is the timeframe needed to create one.
She added she would “love” to see the whole process move faster, but that ICBC’s existing problems and current position leave it with said timeline.
“People are frustrated; they want to have rideshare yesterday, I know that,” said Trevena.
Once the insurance products are in place, she said, “we’re very hopeful that the PTB will be approving them [applications] very quickly when they get the applications in.
And while she recognized that ride hailing companies “are eager to come to the market,” Trevena said “nobody’s going to be on the road until there’s an insurance product that works for them.”
As soon as ICBC has that product in place, she said, “we’ll be able to move on that and it’s a matter of how quickly PTB – which is an independent body – can move.”
Asked at the time if she could foresee there would be ride-hailing services on the road by Christmas 2019, Trevena didn’t answer directly, simply stating it would happen “as soon as possible. If we’re able to get things moving more quickly, it will be before then.”
For now, Vancouver remains the largest city in North America without a ride-hailing service.