Ridesharing companies and taxi operators say ridesharing rules need changes
A day after the full extent of ridesharing rules in B.C. was made public, it appears none of the industry players are entirely happy.
Lyft’s B.C. General Manager said the company is “thrilled” the Passenger Transportation Board, an independent group, ruled there would be no limit on how many ride-hailing vehicles could be on the road to start with, and larger boundaries than taxi drivers contend with. However, he notes a big hurdle will be getting enough drivers on board.
“We're really going to be challenged by driver supply with Class 4 as a requirement. There aren't as many Class 4 drivers in B.C. as we'd need to see,” said Peter Lukomskyj.
Mohan Kang, President of the B.C. Taxi Association, agreed that getting drivers with commercial licences may be difficult, but he thinks regardless, people will flock to the new service.
He said larger operating zones, no cap on fleet size, plus the fact the likes of Uber and Lyft will pay less for insurance, gives ride-hailing companies an “unfair advantage.”
A meeting of the association’s membership is being organized for next week.
“[We’ll] have an extensive discussion on this issue and decide what direction we should be taking,” said Kang. Asked if that could mean a strike, he answered, “No, not to my knowledge.”
The NDP government had promised a level-playing field when it announced ridesharing was coming to B.C.
The Liberals argue the province’s insistence on Class 4 licences is part of a political calculation to appease taxi drivers in crucial ridings.
Jas Johal said those outside the Metro Vancouver region will get the short end of the stick.
“Eighty-five per cent of British Columbia lives in the suburbs of Metro Vancouver or area code 250,” said the BC Liberal MLA. “Those are the folks that are going to have reduced ride-hailing or very poor service because Class 4 drivers are going to be very difficult to find.”
The public safety minister has said he’s concerned about the PTB issuing unlimited licences and the impact on congestion.
A statement issued by Mike Farnworth said in part: “…we would have preferred to see a reasonable cap on the number of ride-hailing vehicles. The PTB has indicated it will reassess these decisions once they have enough data collected from ride-hailing companies. We would like to see the decision on fleet size to be revisited in four to six months, once that has occurred. In the meantime, our government will be working with the Vancouver Taxi Association to respond to their concerns and to ensure the changes are rolled out in the best interests of British Columbians.”
Class 4 licence holders are able to drive taxis, limousines and ambulances. They must be at least 19 years old with less than four penalty point incidents in the past two years and have no driving-related criminal convictions in the last three years.