Uber fans are going to have to wait a while longer before the ride-hailing app can arrive in Vancouver.
Tomorrow (March 24), city council is expected to pass a motion that delays any decision on new taxi services until the end of October 2015.
The report to councillors concerns a moratorium on the issuance of any new taxi licences. A freeze in place today is set to expire on March 31. The Vision-dominated council has signalled it will vote to extend its delay on new licenses for an additional seven months.
The report states that during this time, staff will consult with stakeholders and continue to study the issue. It includes a list of taxi companies and third parties such as the Vancouver Board of Trade with which city staff will meet. Uber’s name also appears on the list.
The motion asks city staff to report back on “measures to ensure customers achieve the full benefits of new 'ride-sharing' technology without undermining the existing [taxi] industry's standards for safety, accessibility, driver training and green technology”.
Even if the City of Vancouver were to issue licences to drivers working for Uber, the company would still not be allowed to operate on Lower Mainland roads. In B.C., taxi rates must be approved by the province’s Passenger Transportation Board. That’s a problem for Uber because its fees change based on demand—what the company calls “surge pricing”.
For Uber to operate in B.C., the provincial government will have to amend the Passenger Transportation Act to permit taxi rates that are subject to frequent changes. As the Straight reported in January 2015, this likely means the challenges Uber faces entering B.C. are greater than those it has overcome to enter other jurisdictions such as California.