Published: Fri, November 23, 2018
Markets | By Jeffery Armstrong

B.C. government says demand, safety behind long-awaited riding hailing plan

B.C. government says demand, safety behind long-awaited riding hailing plan

New legislation introduced today (Nov. 19) will allow ride-hailing companies like Uber to enter B.C. next year, but it will be a long time before these services hit the road.

Michael van Hemmen, who heads Uber's Western Canadian operations, anxious that caps on numbers of vehicles and controls on pricing could present a major roadblock to the company's expansion into B.C. He said no other jurisdiction in Canada sets controls on pricing or vehicle supply.

Allowing services such as Uber and Lyft into the province by the end of 2017 was a promise the N-D-P made during the last election campaign.

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. has set a date for fall of 2019 to come up with a new type of insurance that would cover ride-hailing fleets.

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Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

The NDP government says they expect applications from companies such as Uber and Lyft to be submitted by the fall of 2019 to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB).

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the NDP's bill is a move in the right direction, but he questioned the government's plan to require driver training and class four licences rather than class five, which are used by most drivers in B.C. Class four licences are required to drive taxis, ambulances and small buses with 25 or fewer passengers.

-The development of measures to make sure people are not left stranded when traveling from one municipality to another.

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But it's unclear when exactly the actual ride-hailing services will appear on B.C. roads.

Van Hemmen said that because the legislation doesn't directly address licence class, Uber and others will continue to lobby to have a Class 5 licence be the standard, if the driver has a safe record.

Pascal Ryffel, spokesperson for TappCar, a ride-hailing company in Alberta and Manitoba, welcomed the careful approach taken by the B.C. government.

Taxi and ride-hailing drivers that break the rules will face steeper fines, of up to $50,000, and companies that operate without a licence could face a maximum fine of $100,000. "Workers need a level playing field and more clout to deal with rich and powerful companies", she said.

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"If you're going to be earning money through driving people from place to place, you need to make that investment, get your Class 4 licence so that you can show that you are safe", Trevena said.

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