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Metro Van mayors meet to hammer out ride hailing compromise
VANCOUVER -- The TransLink Mayors' Council met in New Westminster Thursday with a regional business licence for ride hailing companies one of the key items on its agenda.
Most mayors at the table have embraced Uber and Lyft with open arms, but the mayor of Surrey, Doug McCallum, remains staunchly opposed unless cab companies are allowed to operate under similar rules.
"We're not against ride hailing but we want to have a level playing field for our taxi industry," said McCallum. "They employ a lot of our citizens in Surrey and we're going to protect their jobs."
At Surrey’s King George SkyTrain Station, cab drivers waiting to pick up passengers were happy to hear the mayor is in their corner in this fight.
"That's a good thing," said cab driver Sajid Hussain. "I'm thinking if they're both on the same level, that's fine. But not if we are paying more for everything."
The province is offering taxis access to a potentially cheaper insurance plan similar to the one ICBC customized for ride hailing companies. But so far, there has been no movement on another sticking point for the cab industry and its supporters.
"There's still the situation for Delta and others south of the Fraser on removing the archaic boundaries that exist now that prevent taxis from picking up people from Delta, for example, that want to get home from Vancouver,” said Delta Mayor George Harvie.
In the meantime, Surrey bylaw officers continue to crackdown on Uber drivers – and the threat of a $500 fine could be working as intended.
CTV News attempted to call for an Uber in Surrey Thursday, and although the app showed drivers on the road, none accepted the trip from King George SkyTrain Station to Guilford Town Centre.
Details of the mayors' proposed regional scheme are expected to be made public Friday, and then each municipal mayor and council will have to put it to a vote.
Asked whether he would be willing to let Surrey stand alone in opposition to the plan, McCallum wouldn’t say.
“You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find that out,” he replied.