B.C. government not promising ride-hailing launch until fall 2019
Don't hold your breath waiting for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to launch in B.C.
While the provincial government still plans to introduce legislation that will pave the way for ride-hailing companies this year, the Ministry of Transportation revealed Thursday that it might take until fall 2019 for passengers to actually access the long-awaited services.
The announcement is sure to disappoint many people, particularly in Metro Vancouver, given that the NDP once promised to bring in app-based ride-hailing by the end of 2017.
"We know that people are frustrated and have been waiting far too long for a solution to the lack of transportation options that are available," Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said at a news conference.
"People want more options for getting around the city efficiently and they want them now."
But the government is focused on helping the taxi industry be more competitive before opening the door to Uber and similar companies.
The province said it's adopting the recommendations of Dana Hara, the transportation industry expert who was commissioned last fall to consult with stakeholders and find a "made-in-B.C." approach to ride-hailing.
"This was obviously a big task and there was lots of groundwork to do, especially with the taxi industry to make sure they're ready and able to compete on a level playing field when new players are introduced," Trevena said. "We wanted to make sure we're adding, not taking away from good, local jobs."
Hara's findings, which were unveiled Thursday, recommend boosting the number of available taxis by 15 per cent, which Trevena said will help people get around while they wait for ride-hailing to arrive.
If approved by the Passenger Transportation Board, the move would bring about 300 more cabs to the Lower Mainland, and 200 more to the rest of B.C.
It's unclear whether ride-hailing services could launch before fall 2019. After the province introduces its ride-hailing legislation in the next sitting of the legislature, which begins in October, Trevena said ICBC will still need to decide how to best insure the companies.
"We need the insurance in place," she said. "They need the legislation changes, so once ICBC has done that, the doors will be open to ride-hailing companies to come to B.C. if they so choose."
Apart from increasing supply, Hara recommended that taxis be allowed to offer discounts to passengers who book a ride using an app.
To read his full report, click here.