Vancouver the only NHL city without ride-hailing, Canucks owner vents
Published Tuesday, September 25, 2018 1:24PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 25, 2018 1:26PM PDT
Of the 31 cities in North America that have an NHL team, Vancouver is the only one without ride-hailing, the Canucks owner says.
Francesco Aquilini vented his frustrations on Twitter last week over the lack of services such as Uber and Lyft.
"In fact, Vancouver is the only major metro area in all of (North) America without it," he wrote Friday in a tweet which had been shared nearly 2,300 times by Tuesday.
He called on the province to listen to what residents of B.C. want, rather than the taxi industry, and asked his 7,000 followers to retweet his post if they agreed.
Aquilini added his voice to calls from those who live and work in the Vancouver area, who've struggled to find a cab in the first place, and noticed fares are often higher than those through ride-hailing. The tourism industry has also spoken out about the shortage, with one official calling the current situation "unfathomable."
Many have blamed the taxi industry for delays in a service that's been operating in other Canadian cities for several years.
Dozens responded to Aquilini's post, many complaining about how difficult it is to find a free cab in peak times or when it's raining. Some complained they'd had to wait 30 or 40 minutes.
But some were supportive of taxi companies and acknowledged the limitations such as licence restrictions that cab drivers and owners face.
Drivers are required to have a licence to operate, and in cities where the number of licences are limited, they can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many drivers rent theirs from companies for as much as the cost of a one-bedroom apartment.
And cab drivers face additional costs that those who work for Uber or Lyft do not.
"Why are taxis charged premium commercial insurance but Uber drivers can do the same exact job using regular insurance. How is that fair?" wrote one person, who identified themselves as someone who owns taxis in Vancouver.
"It's not like the industry is saying no to Uber. They just want an even field."
A B.C.-specific system
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in July that the province is taking its time because it's working on a B.C.-specific approach.
The province commissioned a report last October, part of which included how to implement a ride-hailing system while supporting the existing cab industry. An all-party then produced a list of recommendations that provided a glimpse at what regulated ride-hailing could look like.
Among the 32 recommendations was that B.C. require background checks for all drivers, impose fare caps and bases, and boost the number of available taxis by 15 per cent – something Trevena vowed to do in the interim.
That interim period could be longer than first estimated, however. While groups including the tourism industry and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are calling for a shortened deadline, the latest timeline from the province suggests it might take until next fall to see cars on the road.
'Nothing comes quickly in government'
When CTV News questioned why the NDP had failed to deliver on its campaign promise of ride-hailing by the end of 2017, the premier tried to shift the blame off his government. John Horgan said Uber tried to come to B.C. five years ago, but the BC Liberals failed to produce regulations.
Horgan defended the delay in the year since his party has taken power, saying the government is working to protect those who provide existing transportation services.
"Nothing comes quickly in government, people know that as well, and we want to make sure we get it right," he said Tuesday. Watch extended video of the exchange with Horgan here.
He said the NDP government will have to edit eight pieces of legislation when the fall session begins so Uber can operate within the province's law.
"Uber's coming. The existing industry has to be ready for that, and the province has to do its work to make sure that the laws of the land are compliant with a new provider," he said.
CTV asked Horgan why other cities didn't face the same delays. He said those cities have faced "bumps along the way," including drivers without appropriate licensing, or those who aren't up to the standard consumers expect.
He said one of the issues is B.C.'s public auto insurer which, in addition to requiring its own set of ride-hailing rules, was inherited as what Horgan described as "quite a mess."
The province's attorney general had a harsher way of describing the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia: a "financial dumpster fire."
Horgan said the government has been working on fixing issues at ICBC, in addition to asking the Crown corporation to provide a package of insurance options for Uber drivers.
He said he was "fairly confident" app users would be able to hail rides through the company by September 2019.
"If it's not in by 2020…" CTV's St. John Alexander asked.
"Come after me," Horgan said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander
There are 31 NHL cities, Vancouver is the only one without ride-hailing.— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) September 21, 2018
In fact, Vancouver is the only major metro area in all of N. America without it.
Listen to the people @govbc, not the taxi lobby. We need @Uber and @lyft!
Please RT if you agree.
Yeah sure. Let’s bring it in. But they better pay the same fees as taxis. Commercial insurance, background checks. Car maintenance. Literally everything should be the same as what it costs taxis to be on the road!— Luvdeep Gill (@LuvdeepGill) September 22, 2018
Just because someone got into the CD business years ago doesn't mean the rest of the people shouldn't be allowed to have iTunes because the industry has passed them by.— Chuck Knucks (@ChuckKnucks) September 22, 2018
We don't need either corp... people want them. We need better transit that runs later and serves more people. Especially those who can't afford either service. Replacing one bad cartel with another won't solve our transit issue. Plus cities like Austin, London are pushing back.— Duane Brown (@duanebrown) September 22, 2018
Thanks for helping keep this alive! Ever try to get a taxi to take you home if you live in the Valley? Or, try to pay with credit card? Every excuse in the book comes out... its an embarrassment to our city!— Bill Gill (@ItsBillGill) September 21, 2018