Despite more than a year of further study, British Columbians will have to wait a little while longer for ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft to be launched in the province.
That’s the latest from the provincial government’s transportation minister Claire Trevena on the matter.
At a press conference in downtown Vancouver this morning, Trevena said the province will be bringing in legislation this fall “that will open the doors to allow ride-hailing companies to come to BC.”
Trevena said the legislation will focus on consumer safety and enforcement, streamlining license applications for taxi drivers, supply and boundaries for taxis, and other passenger-directed vehicles, and working with ICBC to enable a modern insurance product.
“I know that people are looking for expanded transportation options very soon,” she said. “I want to reassure them that a lot of work is happening to get this accomplished but it is important that we get this right. We can learn from the experience of other jurisdictions… and ensure the safety of drivers and passengers in BC.”
Providing some background and context on her announcement, Trevena said there was “a lot of groundwork to do – especially with the taxi industry, to make sure that they’re ready and able to compete on a level playing field when new players are introduced.”
The idea, she continued, is to ensure that “good, local jobs” are not sacrificed, while at the same time, “laying the foundation for a made-in-BC solution.”
All told, the ministry said it expects applications from rideshare companies wanting to enter the market will be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) to offer services to British Columbians by September 2019.
Asked if the province was “behind the times” on the subject of ride-hailing, Trevena said that wasn’t the case. “We’re not behind the times,” she said. “We’re doing things in a very methodical way.”
In the meantime, Trevena said the government will be increasing the number of taxis currently on the streets
“People need to be able to get around the city efficiently and they want them now,” she said. “That’s why we’re putting more taxis in the streets and laying the groundwork for new services to enter the market.”
There will also be flexibility for the taxi industry to offer discount fares when trips are booked through an app.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recently-completed report on modernizing the taxi industry, done by Dan Hara of Ontario-based Hara Associates.
Consulting with those in the industry, as well as stakeholders, Hara was tasked with recommending ways to “help people move around how they want, and when they want,” the ministry said.
A report, released in February 2018 by an all-party legislative committee, identified the need to modernize the Passenger Transportation Act.
“These recommendations, along with Hara’s report, will help government create a new regulatory framework and legislative changes that will pave the way for ridesharing to come to BC,” the government said.
The ministry will immediately begin working with the PTB to implement a number of the changes Hara has recommended. They include:
- Boosting the number of taxis to make it easier for people to get around, quickly – specifically, 15% increase, which would translate to approximately 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland, and 200 more cabs throughout the rest of the province.
- Giving the taxi industry the flexibility to discount fares when trips are booked through an app.
- Equipping the PTB with better data to make smarter decisions on meeting transportation demand, including the number of accessible vehicles required.
The government said its action plan on ridesharing includes:
- Retaining Hara to assist and advise government, and working with the PTB to further consult with industry, including major rideshare stakeholders.
- Implementing policy changes through the PTB.
- Working with the PTB on data collection and analysis.
The provincial government will be adopting these recommendations.