Mayors' council endorses regional ride-hailing licence – with support from Doug McCallum
Published Friday, January 31, 2020 4:26PM PST Last Updated Friday, January 31, 2020 7:17PM PST
VANCOUVER -- The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation has endorsed a regional licence for ride-hailing companies that operate in the Lower Mainland – and it's even supported by Surrey's Doug McCallum.
Under the proposal, companies such as Uber and Lyft would be asked to pay a flat fee of $155 per year plus another $150 for each vehicle in their fleet.
The latter fee would be waived for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, and reduced to $30 a year for vehicles that are zero-emission.
The inter-municipal licence would apply to cities across Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Squamish-Lillooet regional districts, providing local governments adopt the terms. Mayors' council chair Jonathan Cote said in an email to CTV News he expected the proposal will make it to councils in a month or two.
The mayor of Surrey, who has taken a combative stance against Uber and Lyft since they launched in B.C. last week, said he believes the licence "levels the playing field" and that it has his support.
At a news conference Friday aftenroon, McCallum was asked multiple times what that means for Surrey bylaw officers who have been handing out tickets to ride-hailing companies and drivers for days. The mayor refused to answer the question.
“We have a court case next week,” he told reporters.
Uber has filed a lawsuit to stop the city of Surrey from ticketing drivers, arguing it has provincial authority to operate in the region even if the city won’t issue licences.
The mayor's council is also urging cities to "harmonize" their existing fees on the taxi industry so they match the proposed ride-hailing rates - a move McCallum said he supports even though it could mean a $150,000 hit to Surrey's budget.
McCallum said he would next like to see the B.C. government and Passenger Transportation Board address other inequities between the taxi and ride-hailing industries, including pick-up boundaries, fleet caps and insurance requirements.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said Thursday that the province is already working with ICBC on a new insurance rate for taxi drivers that will be similar to the one charged to ride-hailing vehicles.
In statements, both Uber and Lyft applauded the mayors' council’s proposal. Uber said it was “supportive” and Lyft said it was “pleased” with the movement towards a regional requirement that means just one licence is needed.