Judge throws out complaint from taxi companies claiming regulator made error approving Uber and Lyft
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Supreme Court has thrown out a legal challenge brought forward by taxi companies that claimed there were errors made when Uber and Lyft were approved to operate in the province.
Several Vancouver taxi companies asked the courts to review and reconsider the B.C. Passenger Transportation Board’s decision to grant licenses to the ride-hailing companies. They argued that the board’s decision to give licences to Uber and Lyft was "patently unreasonable" because it didn't consider fleet size or the effect of an unlimited fleet size on the provincial economy and the taxi industry.
But the judge who reviewed the claims sided with the board’s licensing decision and – by extension – the ride-hailing companies.
“I would go so far as to say that the (Passenger Transportation) Board made a very common sense decision in the circumstances,” reads the Jan. 20 decision from Justice Sandra Wilkinson.
After years of negotiations and regulatory hurdles, the two companies began operating in Metro Vancouver in January 2020. Taxi companies in B.C. have long opposed ride-hailing, fearing it will have a negative impact on their industry.
In this specific challenge, the taxi companies argued that the licensing board was required to “consider whether there is a public need for an unlimited fleet size.”
But the judge rejected this, and said the board had carefully considered the question of fleet size.
“The Board made the decision that a cap on fleet size was not an appropriate term or condition,” reads the decision.
“This is not a deferral of a decision or a failure to consider the issue of fleet size,” continues Justice Wilkinson’s ruling.
The judge said that Uber showed the board that in other Canadian cities “there is clientele the taxi industry has not tapped into,” and that it determined that ride-hailing services are different than a taxi service.
Taxi companies had argued that Uber and Lyft would have negative impacts on their industry, and expressed concern about predatory pricing, traffic congestion, and increased greenhouse gas emissions, among other issues.
However, the judge found that the board “recognized that there were potential risks of an unlimited fleet size but accepted that a flexible supply of … (ride-hailing) drivers and vehicles is part of the ... business model.”