Provincial government announces that Uber and Lyft will be allowed
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone announced on March 7 that ride share services will be allowed to start operating in the province in December of 2017—after the provincial election.
“We know that British Columbians want additional choice and convenience and that ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft provide real opportunities to provide new services for consumers through the use of technology,” Stone said during the announcement.
Peter Fassbender, the minister responsible for TransLink, alluded to the decision on March 3 at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade summit. Further evidence to future ride-sharing in Vancouver was found after an Uber advertisement was spotted online by people all over the Lower Mainland.
“We are looking to expand our driver support team in Western Canada,” said the advertisement, according to CTV. “We need sharp people to support and educate our Uber partners as they grow their business of being an Uber driver.”
It is a decision that has brought both praise and criticism.
Taxi companies, who have been long opposed to ride-share in Vancouver, have said that they have no plans of backing down over the decision, and hope to see it overturned.
Provisions to ease the introduction of ride-share services for taxi companies are already being planned. There will be $1 million invested in creating apps that will make ordering a cab as easy as ordering an Uber. Taxis will also retain exclusive rights to be hailed via phone or in person, whereas ride-share services may only be procured by their respective apps.
“They say it’s an even playing field, but they’re lowering the standards all the way around […] The government-proposed method of deregulating the taxi industry is going to destroy the small business and livelihoods of Vancouver Taxi Association owners,” said Carolyn Bauer, spokesperson for the Vancouver Taxi Association, to CBC.
Others are concerned about the safety risks that could come when the ride-share services arrive. “What I’m worried about here is we’re going to see reduction in the insurance standards and reduction in oversight of the drivers,” said Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs to CBC.
Ride-share drivers will supposedly be held to the same standards that are imposed on taxi drivers—that is, they must be over 19, hold a Class 5 license, have a safe driving history, have a safe vehicle (as determined by inspection), and pass a criminal record check.
The City of Vancouver has a history of opposing ride-share services. In October 2016, the city passed a moratorium preventing any ride-share services from operating until at least October 2017. Should the provincial government uphold its decision to permit the ride-share services, they will likely not be operational until late 2017.