Uber and other ridesharing companies will be permitted to operate in British Columbia from December 2017, the BC government announced on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone said he would also be giving the taxi industry up to $1 million to develop an app.
Other measures taken to protect the taxi industry will include:
- ICBC will spend $3.5 million installing crash prevention technology in taxis
- ICBC is working with the taxi industry to streamline the insurance claims process
- The province and municipalities will reduce red tape in the tax industry
- Taxis will keep exclusive rights to be hired by phone, at a taxi stand, or in the street
- Taxis will be allowed to pick up and drop off anywhere across municipalities
In terms of the rules that will apply to drivers of rideshare companies and tax drivers alike, they will include:
- The same safety standards will apply to taxis and ridesharing vehicles
- All drivers must have an unrestricted licence and be at least 19 years old
- All drivers must pass criminal records and safe driving record check
- All vehicles must pass regular mechanical inspections
Stone said the province was also planning on modernizing the entire passenger transportation industry in British Columbia.
“We’re working closely with TransLink to what the future looks like with the Compass Card and how that can interact with ridesharing and taxi companies.”
Stone said the province had been consulting on the issue of rideshare with the taxi and ridesharing industries, as well as British Columbians, over the last few months.
— Todd Stone (@toddstonebc) March 7, 2017
Stone said the changes were being made to fulfil the public’s need for more choice, convenience, accessibility and competition.
“British Columbians have made it very clear that there is a demand for services that ridesharing companies provide,” said Stone.
“I understand that harnessing technology and the advances in technology…it’s very, very critical that you’re keeping up with the times.”
On the issue of investing in the taxi industry, Stone said taxi companies had told him they were supportive of ridesharing coming to BC, as long as it was done on a level playing field.
“We recognize that in a free market competition we want to keep the industry competitive,” said Stone. “That’s why we’re giving them specific incentives, options they can employ, and support for them to move their technology platform forward.”
“But we know that technology is affecting every part of our society and the provision of transportation services is critical.”
Meanwhile, in a release, Uber said British Columbians want and need access to more safe, affordable, reliable transportation options across the province.
“Today’s announcement is a step forward by the provincial government, and we’re encouraging all parties in British Columbia to commit to bringing forward progressive regulations that embrace ridesharing in 2017.”
According to Uber, more than a quarter million British Columbians have downloaded the Uber app and more than 350,000 tourists have tried to use the app in BC since 2015.
Metro Vancouver is the largest metropolitan area in North America without ridesharing, according to Uber.
The announcement comes just months ahead of the May provincial election. The government said they would be working over rest of the year to flesh out their plan.
“Make no mistake about it, ridesharing is coming to British Columbia for the holiday season in 2017,” said Stone. “But we’re going to take the next nine months to continue to make sure we get the details right.”