MADD Canada calls on B.C. to introduce ride-hailing in 2018
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is urging the B.C. government to bring ride-hailing services into the province this year to help reduce accidents on the roads.
MADD Canada, the BarWatch program and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart held a joint news conference Tuesday calling for an end to the delays that have kept companies such as Uber and Lyft at bay years after they launched in other provinces.
"Ride-sharing is a safe, reliable and convenient transportation option that should be available to all the people of British Columbia," said Tracy Crawford, regional director of MADD.
"It's very frustrating from our perspective because having more transportation options available is critical to reducing drunk driving."
Last week, the provincial government revealed that it would take until fall 2019 for ride-hailing to launch in B.C., despite previous promises to welcome the services by the end of the year.
Before the last provincial election, the NDP even pledged to bring in ride-hailing in 2017.
According to ICBC, an average of 65 people die in impaired driving crashes every year in B.C., and Crawford said the issue has become even more pressing as Canada gets closer to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
"Driving impaired should never be anyone's choice, but all too often people still do it. Having more safe and reliable transportation options available to people is a crucial way we can stop impaired driving," she said.
"Further delays cannot be justified."
B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the government has heard and shares MADD's concerns.
"We know people are looking for more transportation options to get around quickly, safely and reliably," she said in an emailed statement to CTV.
She said organizations like MADD and BarWatch are correct when they say ride-hailing will reduce the risk of impaired driving, and repeated a message last Thursday that the NDP would be working to help the taxi industry become more competitive before opening the door to Uber and similar companies.
She promised to work with the Passenger Transportation Board in an effort to increase the province's supply of taxis by 15 per cent in the meantime, which would amount to an extra 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland. She said she'd be working with the board to ensure the cabs are on the road as soon as possible, but did not provide a specific timeline.
Trevena said the NDP is introducing legislation that will pave the way for ride-hailing this fall, but that ICBC will still need to decide how to insure companies like Uber.
"Once a suitable insurance product is in place, we expect to see new ride hailing companies enter the market," she said.
Critics, including the Coquitlam mayor, have pointed out that the process hasn’t taken nearly as much time in other cities and provinces.
“I’ve actually spoken with other jurisdictions about how this got implemented, and it doesn’t take this long,” Stewart said. “It can’t possibly take 2½ years to put in place a regime that supports ride-sharing.”
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko