Despite proclaiming in May that they “support the passing of new rules to introduce ridesharing to BC in 2017,” the new BC NDP provincial government is tapping the brakes on its plan to bring such a service to the province – at least until after consultations with an industry expert next year.
In an announcement on Monday, Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the government has hired Dan Hara, an “industry expert” with 21 years experience in advising government agencies on regulatory and transportation policy.
As part of the announcement, Trevena said Hara has been hired to “consult with and help prepare the taxi industry for a ‘Made-in-BC’ a solution to ride-sharing that will allow people to get around more easily.”
Hara comes on board from Ottawa-based firm, Hara Associates.
Trevena said the firm’s expertise will help the province put a ride-sharing system in place that is “fair for workers and businesses, fair for customers, and safe for everyone.”
Hara is expected to finish his work in early-2018, according to the ministry.
Following the completion of the consultations, the province’s plan and timeline to bring ride-sharing services into the province will be delivered in 2018, with legislative changes anticipated for the fall.
Green Party “very disappointed” by announcement
In response to the announcement, BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he was “very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ridesharing to British Columbians by the end of this year.”
Noting that it has been five years since ride sharing was first introduced into BC, Weaver said there “have since been reports that ridesharing companies are operating without proper oversight, regulation, and insurance.”
Further, he added, “all three parties agreed to bring in ridesharing in the last election and have now had significant time to consult stakeholders and assess the various ramifications of regulating this industry in British Columbia.”
The “creative economy and innovation are the future of our province,” he added. “We cannot be tech innovators if we’re not willing to embrace innovation.”
Weaver said that this Thursday, for the third time, he will “introduce legislation that will enable ridesharing to finally operate in a regulated fashion in BC.”
it’s his hope, he continued, that “both parties will take this opportunity to engage in a substantive debate on the details of this issue so that we can move past rhetoric and vague statements and finally get to work delivering for British Columbians.”
Uber responds to decision
In a statement, Uber Canada spokesperson Susie Heath said the company is currently “seeking clarification if the terms of reference have the objective of enabling ridesharing in British Columbia, a key election promise of all parties, or if this review is solely focused on taxi.”
Heath said it is important “that every voice be heard including the general public and ridesharing companies which are not currently on the list of groups to be consulted.”
Despite Monday’s decision, Heath said the company remains committed to working with the provincial government and all MLAs to “develop regulations that make sense for ridesharing so that British Columbians can benefit from a flexible income earning opportunity and another safe, reliable way to get around their communities as soon as possible.”