BC to welcome ride-hailing companies by December 2017

Uber Taxi

Uber Taxi

While it is not clear what exactly the minister will announce, there has always been speculation that ride-sharing service Uber might be launching its operation in the province in the immediate future.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the provincial government will use the next nine months to consider all of the pros and cons, including passenger safety.

The government will dedicate $1 million to the provincial taxicab industry to help it develop an app to compete with Uber.

"I think many British Columbians find it somewhat odd that we're one of the last major metropolitan areas in North America that doesn't yet have ride-sharing", Stone said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

The delayed rollout is meant to give ride-hailing companies and taxi companies a chance to respond to the government's proposed changes, Stone said.

A Vancouver city councillor has predicted that the B.C. government will take away municipalities' legal authority over the activation of taxi licences.

"The new process that will be put in place will ensure as level a playing field as possible between ride-sharing companies and the taxi industry in the insurance that they will require to assure consumers that they are covered", Fassbender said.

"The province is prepared, as part of wanting to keep the industry competitive, to provide them with that support", he said.

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While the province will look to have Uber on the road by the year's end, Mistry said Ripe Rides does not now plan to withdraw its application for 150 taxi licences.

Meggs was also critical of the province's decision to give cabs and ride-hailing drivers equal access to cross municipal boundaries.

Lyft is now available in just over 300 cities and continues to distinguish itself through its positive in-car experience, for both passengers and drivers.

Uber has been controversial in other provinces, including Quebec, where a class-action lawsuit filed by taxi companies and drivers against the company was certified in January. Fassbender said he's open to changes based on feedback from the taxi industry and others.

Horgan said he agrees that taxis should be able to pick-up and drop-off customers anywhere, but that the province also needs more cabs on the road.

Stone adds drivers will have to follow the same regime including safe-driving and criminal record checks; their auto must also pass regular mechanical inspections.

Kang said that even with the government's attempts to level the playing the field, "they've drastically inclined it toward ride-sharing services".

The Vancouver Taxi Association swiftly promised to fight the province's plan any way it could, including in the courtroom.

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