BC is looking to increase the number of taxis on the road as people continue to wait for ride-hailing service

According to the province, youll have to wait until at least the fall of 2019 for ride-hailing services in BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you were hoping ride-hailing was coming to BC — you’ll have to wait even longer.

Providing some background and context on her announcement, Trevena said there was “a lot of groundwork to do – especially with the taxi industry, to make sure that they’re ready and able to compete on a level playing field when new players are introduced.”

Ride-hailing not coming to British Columbia until fall of 2019

The province announced it won’t be available until at least the fall of 2019, but it’s looking to modernize the taxi industry in the meantime.

Trevena said the legislation will focus on consumer safety and enforcement, streamlining license applications for taxi drivers, supply and boundaries for taxis, and other passenger-directed vehicles, and working with ICBC to enable a modern insurance product.

“People need to be able to get around safely and reliably,” Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said on Thursday. “That’s why we’re putting more taxis on the streets, and laying the groundwork for new services to enter the market.”

.@clairetrevena not guaranteeing ride-hailing services like #Uber and #Lyft will be allowed before busy #Christmas season, but door is open once safety concerns addressed by @icbc. For now, more taxis coming. #transportation #bcpoli

The provincial government will boost the number of cabs on the roads, with a report recommending the increase be by about 15 per cent.According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, that increase would translate to about 300 more cabs around the Lower Mainland, and 200 more in the rest of BC.

All told, the ministry said it expects applications from rideshare companies wanting to enter the market will be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) to offer services to British Columbians by September 2019.

With ride-hailing availability once again pushed back, Trevena claims it’s all to ensure public safety.

“These recommendations, along with Haras report, will help government create a new regulatory framework and legislative changes that will pave the way for ridesharing to come to BC,” the government said.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re far behind the times at all,” she told reporters. “I would say that we’re doing things in a very methodical way to ensure that we have safety for the people of BC, for those who are looking for a ride, as well as those who are offering a ride. We need to make sure we are providing the best possible options and I think this approach will do that.”

At a press conference in downtown Vancouver this morning, Trevena said the province will be bringing in legislation this fall “that will open the doors to allow ride-hailing companies to come to BC.”

#BREAKING No immediate approval of ride hailing apps like #Uber and #Lyft yet in #BC. Report re: Modernizing Taxi Regulation recommends increasing existing taxi fleet 15% and letting drivers lower prices during off-peak times. Open entry is not suggested #bcpoli #Transportation pic.twitter.com/2d7BaLsDj5

Consulting with those in the industry, as well as stakeholders, Hara was tasked with recommending ways to “help people move around how they want, and when they want,” the ministry said.

Premier John Horgan had promised to make ride-hailing available by the end of last year, but that didn’t happen.

Despite more than a year of further study, British Columbians will have to wait a little while longer for ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft to be launched in the province.

“One of the unique areas about BC is that we have different levels of government have different involvement on jurisdiction when it comes to taxi and when it comes to that,” Trevena said. “We also have to ensure they’re safe, we have an independent Passenger Transportation Board which is an independent tribunal that has a strong involvement with this. These are some of the areas that we have to be very mindful of when we are looking forward.”

The idea, she continued, is to ensure that “good, local jobs” are not sacrificed, while at the same time, “laying the foundation for a made-in-BC solution.”

The BC Greens are once again expressing their disappointment that the availability of ride-hailing services has been delayed — again.

The announcement comes on the heels of a recently-completed report on modernizing the taxi industry, done by Dan Hara of Ontario-based Hara Associates.

However, Adam Olsen says in a statement that the party is pleased the government “has committed to a path forward.”

A report, released in February 2018 by an all-party legislative committee, identified the need to modernize the Passenger Transportation Act.

“In our view, a better approach would be to modernize the taxi industry concurrently with bringing in ride-hailing, however, it is encouraging that the initial legislative steps to enable ride-hailing will be before the House this Fall. There has been a lot of broken promises on this issue.”

Olsen adds Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been urging the province to address “disruptive technological change” associated with ride-hailing, and claims he’s kept the pressure on government.

BC’s Transportation Minister Claire trevena spoke in Vancouver on Thursday morning. (Eric Zimmer / Daily Hive)

Our caucus is incredibly disappointed that British Columbians will still have fewer transportation options than every other city in North America this winter. My full statement #BCpoli pic.twitter.com/gjqrxv0hgv

“You can be fair without giving them the exact same rules,” said Uber Western Canada General Manager Michael van Hemmen. “Other jurisdictions in Canada have done that. When you look at Brampton, Ontario. They were the most recent jurisdiction to release data from ride sharing and what happened with the taxi industry. What it found was taxi ridership was flat. Ride sharing is bigger than the taxi industry and public transit went up 17 per cent. It is absolutely possible to find a way to make all modes grow.”

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Numbers provided by Uber show that more than 500,000 have opened the companies app in the last two years. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade produced a report in February 2016, entitled Innovative Transportation Options for Metro Vancouver, which outlined specific steps that the provincial government could take to immediately begin modernizing our traditional taxi industry while paving the way for ride-hailing.

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The government will then introduce amended legislation in the fall that would ‘lay the ground work for new companies to enter the market’. Trevena said once that legislation was passed, ride hailing companies could start applying to work in British Columbia. The province’s public insurer, ICBC, also must wait until legislation is done to create a new package for ride-hailing drivers.

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The report recommends getting rid of municipal boundaries for taxis, increasing the number of taxis on the road by 15 per cent and allowing discounted pricing for taxi trips ordered by smartphone app. But Hara did recommend the province could consider regional boundaries that would continue to restrict where drivers could pick up passengers.

Taxi fleets across B.C. will soon be boosted by 15 per cent, but ride-hailing services like Uber won’t be on the streets until late 2019, the province has announced.

The association has a tentative agreement in place to develop a ride-for-hire app called Kater. The deal would leave 20 per cent of the profits with taxi companies and calls for provincial licensing of 200 Kater Cabs, which would operate like typical ride-hailing cars that companies like Uber and Lyft have operating in other cities.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena made the announcement Thursday morning, in response to a new technical report from transportation expert Dan Hara.

Trevena said she understands that British Columbians have been waiting for new transportation options for awhile, but the province is concerned about protecting the safety of both passengers and drivers.

For years, our province has been spinning its wheels on ridesharing and the modernization of the taxi industry, said GVBOT President Iain Black. Todays announcement perpetuates the taxi monopoly while only partially addressing the underlying problems that the industry requires to be fixed, with no firm timelines in place.

And despite the fact that services like Uber are already available in hundreds of cities around the world, she denied that B.C. is behind the times.

“We are extremely disappointed in todays announcement that ridesharing is going to take at least 18 months,” posted the group online. “BC deserve the same services that are available across Canada reducing impaired driving and increasing access to affordable, reliable service and they deserve it this year.”

“I wouldn’t say that we’re far behind the times at all. I’d say that we’re doing things in a very methodical way to ensure that we have safety for the people of B.C.,” she told reporters.

The B.C. Green Party has been advocating for ride sharing and is frustrated that the government is not implementing new services at the same time as updating the taxi industry. Critic Adam Olsen said that both the NDP, and before that the B.C. Liberals, have been playing politics with the industry.

The minister pledged to introduce legislation opening the doors for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft this fall, and said she expects applications from ride-hailing companies to be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) by September 2019.

The province has promised to quickly start working with the Passenger Transportation Safety Board to get more cabs on the road. The goal is to hit the recommended target of a 15 per cent increases, which would mean 300 new cabs in Metro Vancouver and 200 in the rest of the province.

During the last election campaign, the NDP pledged to bring in ride-hailing legislation by the end of 2017. Earlier this year, there was some suggestion that ride-hailing would be allowed in B.C. sometime in 2018.

“One of the last pieces will be working with ICBC to provide insurance models for the industry,” said Trevena. “We need the insurance in place. Once ICBC has done that the doors will be open to ride hailing companies to come to B.C. if they so choose.”

Nonetheless, members of the advocacy coalition Ridesharing Now for B.C. said they were pleased with the latest news.

“Smaller communities and First Nations want their communities better served, especially where present service is spotty or non-existent. Large urban communities experience shortages during peak hours, especially on weekend nights or during special events.”

“All I can say about this morning’s announcement is: ‘Finally,'” Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said at a news conference.

But at the same time, Ian Tostenson of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association said he was not convinced that it will take more than a year to make ride-hailing a reality.

Ridesharing Now for BC, a group advocating for new services in B.C., initially called Thursday’s announcement a ‘positive’ step. But the group later went on social media to express frustration with the province.

“I think we can move quicker,” he said, adding that his group plans to work with the province to bring new services to B.C. before 2019.

Hara’s report recommended an immediate 15-per-cent increase in taxi fleets across the province, which would mean 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland and another 200 throughout the province.

The transportation ministry says it will begin working with the PTB right away to get those cars on the road.

Hara’s report rejects a plan from the taxi companies to create a universal app that could be used across the province, writing that “the monopoly aspects of the proposal are found to be risky and unnecessary.”

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