A day after Surrey mayor Doug McCallum expressed disappointment with new ride-hailing rules, cabbies south of the Fraser accused the NDP government of breaking its promise to bring in a level playing field.
In a video clip making the rounds on Twitter today, a Channel Punjabi interview posted to YouTube shows several men identified as taxi drivers expressing concern with new regulations. Particularly, they’re upset ride-hailing companies can have as many vehicles on the road as they want (to start at least) and being able to operate in zones that are larger than what taxi drivers face.
“Harry Bains bhaji, please resign,” one man can be seen saying in the 30 minute plus interview. The same man calls on other NDP MLAs from Surrey to also resign, if the politicians’ voices weren’t being heard in caucus.
Gurminder Singh, the general manager of Newton Whalley Hi-Way Taxi Ltd confirmed discussions and meetings were underway with those unhappy with the new ride-hailing rules. He said there’s been talk of ‘pulling support’ from the NDP, but said at this point, nothing has been decided.
The Vancouver Taxi Association is also unhappy with the new ride-hailing regime; particularly what the organization says is lower insurance rates for companies like Uber and Lyft, and with the unlimited fleet size. However, that organization differs from other cabbies expressing frustration, in that it wants to keep boundaries. VTA says if boundaries are removed, it could mean a flood of suburban cabs in downtown Vancouver.
There’s another player, The BC Taxi Association, which says it represents a majority of cabs companies in B.C. It also is advocating for larger boundaries for cabs and also has expressed concerns with the insurance model and unlimited fleet size.
Uber and Lyft both say they will apply to the Passenger Transportation Board to operate in Metro Vancouver this year, although it’s believed they may face a shortage of drivers. That’s because the province decided all those who get behind the wheel of ride-hailing vehicles should have a commercial class 4 licenses. Most other jurisdictions allow operators to have a regular class 5 license.
The independent Passenger Transportation Board released additional regulations this month, which is where the unlimited fleet size and larger operating zones came from. The PTB also mandated similar minimum fares for both taxis and ride-hailing vehicles.
ICBC set insurance rates for the ride-hailing companies, while the province decided that Class 4 licenses were needed. The province has also expressed concerns with the decisions by the Passenger Transportation Board.
Cabbies are expected to meet again this week to discuss next steps.