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

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

Ride-sharing services like Uber have existed for nearly a decade, but British Columbia has yet to adopt them.

"As soon as ICBC gets that product in place, we'll be able to move on that and then it's a part of how quickly PTB [Passenger Transportation Board] can move".

Ride-sharing companies in British Columbia are applauding B.C.'s NDP government for introducing legislation that will allow companies to operate by next year, but concerns surround the lack of regulatory structure.

Companies like Uber may now apply to the PTB for approval on B.C. roads, however, without any corresponding insurance products for these services the regulator would no doubt deny the applications.

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.

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"They skipped over ride-hailing 1.0 and they're at ride-hailing 2.0", she said.

"Transportation Board is going to determine how many cars are on the road in any particular area at any particular time, which completely defeats the objective, we think, of ridesharing, which is driven by the consumer, that we need a ride now", says Tostenson. Anita Huberman, CEO of the SBOT, said in a statement.

"Ride-hailing enterprises like Uber helped invent the gig economy, where jobs are created to be precarious, unstable, and mostly low-paying".

Access to B.C. drivers may be somewhat of a challenge for ride-hailing companies. "Workers need a level playing field and more clout to deal with rich and powerful companies", she said.

Under the NDP's proposed system, drivers for ride hailing companies would also be required to have a Class 4 commercial drivers' licence rather than the regular Class 5 licence.

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But Shauna Brail, associate professor in urban studies at the University of Toronto, said British Columbia isn't reinventing the wheel by regulating the industry.

"Drivers, experienced safe drivers have a hard time understanding why they would need to get a special driver's licence to drive the same vehicle that they're already driving, so it definitely becomes a barrier to a lot of people to participate", he said.

The transportation minister was unable to offer any clarity on how much British Columbians can expect to pay for ride-hailing service.

Edmonton was the first Canadian city to regulate ride-hailing in 2016 and now 20 of Canada's 30 largest cities have some form of regulations governing the operation of the services, she said.

The regulations also give taxi companies more flexibility to pick up and drop off passengers in different municipalities, an ongoing frustration that leaves many people stranded.

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The PTB will determine how many operators work in particular geographical areas.