Ride hailing services using smartphone apps are competing with taxi service in most urban areas of North America, but not yet in B.C. (Wikimedia Commons)

B.C. politicians tackle ride-hailing rules

Uber, Lyft can work with existing taxi business, expert says

An all-party committee of B.C. MLAs is at work to put broken promises and blame behind them and work out a way to introduce smartphone-based ride-hailing service to the province.

The committee began three days of hearings in Vancouver Monday, hearing from a transportation consultant and B.C. taxi industry representatives who pleaded for a compromise to prevent “destructive competition” from online operators.

Vancouver Taxi Association representative Carolyn Bauer told MLAs the taxi industry wants to embrace new technology, and recognizes the problems people face getting a ride around Metro Vancouver.

“We’re the ones that are being screamed at when people can’t get service,” Bauer said.

The Vancouver Taxi Association is working on a common smartphone app being developed by a B.C. company called Kater that would provide one-stop shopping for people looking for a taxi or ride-hailing service. Bauer said it would offer the nearest driver if all of the licensed taxis in Vancouver or another municipality are busy.

RELATED: Pressure on John Horgan to protect taxi industry

RELATED: Lyft looks at B.C., promotes small-town service

Transportation consultant Benn Proctor told the committee the taxi industry’s claim that its drivers make a living wage under the current system is not supported by his research.

On Friday or Saturday nights in Vancouver, drivers have to bid $180 to $200 to drive a licensed taxi, and return the taxi with a full gas tank, Proctor said. That means they need to make more than $400 during a 12-hour shift in order to earn minimum wage, and they can’t take longer trips without a fare on the way back.

Proctor said Calgary offers a good example of taxis working with ride-hailing services, with 1.4 million additional rides provided by Uber and only a slight decrease in taxi rides during the same period.

Bauer disputed that, saying many Calgary taxi drivers have parked their cars, unable to make enough to cover expenses as the number of Uber drivers grew from 3,500 to 5,000.

Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux said as a wheelchair user, she gets good service from established taxi companies. She asked for assurances that a shift to ride hailing would maintain enough accessible vehicles for disabled people.

Mohan Singh Kang of the B.C. Taxi Association said taxi companies maintain vehicles for disabled people, even in communities such as Williams Lake where there may be 10 or fewer calls per week from the service.

The committee was proposed by B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who has repeatedly pushed for B.C. to join most large cities in North America to allow Uber, Lyft and other services to supplement taxi service.

Weaver disputed Bauer’s suggestion that ride-hailing services are “destructive,” saying there is no city in the world that has lost its taxi industry with the addition of competition.

The B.C. NDP matched the B.C. Liberal election promise to introduce ride-hailing by the end of 2017, but NDP Transportation Minister Claire Trevena retreated and ordered a review of the taxi industry first. Trevena said the previous government did not make enough progress on creating licensing and vehicle insurance for ride-hailing drivers, one of the complaints of taxi services that want similar rules for competing services.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge car dealership staff pursue man who stole keys

Large police presence after suspect fled through backyards

Letter: Chance for a better life

I live three blocks from the Anita Place camp and have not had any problems with the there.

Jim Robson Road dedication part of Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey celebrations

John Shorthouse will join in 50th anniversary event in Maple Ridge

Untrending: With Facebook changes, what’s a business to do?

Build community by crafting an online challenge that compels action.

In Education: Weeding through post-secondary options

What sets apart universities, colleges, and institutes, aside from the names?

Maple Ridge residents rally against homeless shelter

Say facility is poorly placed near a residential neighbourhood, schools

Orange crush: Vancouver Giants blanked by Portland Winterhawks

Saturday’s 2-0 setback marks first regulation loss for G-Men in 10 games

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Flames fall to Pilots in overtime

Ridge Meadows still leads conference, with game in hand

VIDEO: Remember the Voyageurs at Fort Langley

Two-day historical festival underway

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Most Read