Written for Daily Hive by Delta City Councillor Dylan Kruger
On Monday, Delta Councillor Lois Jackson will table an emergency motion opposing the Passenger Transportation Board’s new regulations for ride-sharing companies. Of concern to Jackson and other municipal leaders is the perceived lack of fairness for the longstanding taxi industry in Metro Vancouver.
I’ll be opposing this motion on behalf of every frustrated Metro Vancouver resident who has been passed up by a taxi because they “lived too far away,” or because they wanted to pay with credit instead of cash.
Suburban cities like Delta and Surrey need ridesharing, possibly even more than our urban centres do.
First, it’s popular. A recent poll showed that 78% of respondents who lived south of the Fraser support ride-sharing (yes, that includes Surrey too). Anyone who lives here understands why – south of the Fraser communities are woefully underserved by public transit. While investments in new services are coming, there is a long way to go to bridge the gap. Carsharing services like Evo and Car2Go are great solutions for city dwellers, but these innovative technologies haven’t found their way across the river yet.
I can’t even begin to count the number of horror stories I’ve heard from friends and family who were unable to find a safe ride home after a night out. Once the busses and trains shut down, taxis are the only option. If a driver refuses to give you a ride, it’s game over.
Ride-sharing has been shown to reduce impaired driving, reduce reliance on owning a personal vehicle, and generally increase transportation options in communities — especially suburbs. Detractors have noted concerns regarding congestion on our major crossings, like the George Massey Tunnel and the Alex Fraser Bridge. I am the first person to say that we desperately need a replacement for the aging Massey Tunnel, but these talking points are simply not true. If anything, innovative driver destination pooling features actually enable car-pooling, taking cars off the road and connecting commuters in the process.
Most importantly, the call to cap fleet sizes on ride sharing vehicles is antithetical to the entire concept of ride sharing, which is rooted in the principle of fluctuating supply to meet changing demand. No regulator in North America has restricted fleet sizes, and to do so would only encourage drivers to stick close to urban centres, and away from the suburbs.
Should we eliminate boundaries for taxi companies? Absolutely. Taxi regulations are antiquated and in urgent need of updating. However, in a market-driven society, we cannot shelter established industries from emerging technologies. I am convinced that taxis and ride sharing companies can co-exist, just like they do in every other major city across the globe.
Oh, and on a point of order, this whole issue is a provincial matter — municipal governments have no jurisdiction on transportation regulations. Frankly, this motion does not belong anywhere near a municipal council table.