Uber will not be allowed to start service downtown despite speculation
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Despite a shortage of taxis available in Vancouver, especially during peak hours on weekends, ride-share businesses such as Uber will not be allowed to start servicing the Vancouver area. The decision was made by the Vancouver City Council on October 29.
“What council decided unanimously is we should stick with what we know and are doing well, which is providing quality taxi service,” Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs said to CTV. “The ride sharing issue […] really belongs at the provincial level.”
In addition to disallowing ride-sharing, the city also decided against enlisting help from suburban taxi companies during weekend rushes due to the differences between their contracts and those of Vancouver.
“To solve a problem here and create it somewhere else doesn’t make any sense,” Kalwant Sahota, president of Yellow Cabs, told CBC.
According to CBC, Vancouver doesn’t even have half the amount of taxis per capita as Halifax and Montreal.
Those working for Vancouver taxi companies rejoiced at the decision, many of whom have been ardently against Uber starting service in Vancouver.
“It’s not push back from us. It’s about making a proper living,” said Carolyn Bauer, general manager of Yellow Cabs, to CBC.
Bauer went on to say that Uber hadn’t attempted to obtain a licence to operate in Vancouver, although she also expressed that she was not opposed to Uber entering the city so long as drivers were held to the same standards as those for taxi companies.
The city hopes to decrease wait times for taxis by adding 99 new licences into the system exclusively for Fridays and Saturdays.
Michael Van Hemmen, the public policy manager for Uber Canada, argued to CBC that Uber would not infringe on the profits of taxi companies in Vancouver, a fear that is held by many who work in the Vancouver taxi industry. Van Hemmen instead argues that due to the increasing number of people deciding to opt out of buying a car, Uber would help alleviate the workload. In addition, he says that Uber could help increase the number of those wanting rides in and out of Vancouver, and that the safety fears about Uber are common misconceptions that can be broken down through discussion.
Van Hemmen is not the only person disagreeing with the city council’s decision. Some have accused the city council of being biased, having accepted a $53,000 donation from the Vancouver Taxi Association during the 2014 municipal election.