Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena has announced that an Ottawa-based consultant will "help prepare the taxi industry for a made-in-B.C. solution to ride-sharing".
Don Hara will make recommendations next year. According to a B.C. government news release, this will clear the way for "legislative changes anticipated for the fall" of 2018.
But that's not quick enough for B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver.
“I am very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ride-sharing to British Columbians by the end of this year,” Weaver said in a statement. “It has been five years since ride-sharing was first introduced into B.C. There have since been reports that ride-sharing companies are operating without proper oversight, regulation and insurance. Further, all three parties agreed to bring in ride-sharing in the last election and have now had significant time to consult stakeholders and assess the various ramifications of regulating this industry in British Columbia."
He also claimed that the government "should proactively examine evidence and openly debate" new technologies in a timely way.
“The creative economy and innovation are the future of our province," Weaver declared. "We cannot be tech innovators if we’re not willing to embrace innovation."
The B.C. NDP platform pledged that no group of drivers would get an unfair advantage when it came to the delivery of ride-sharing services.
"We need to 'level up' standards across the province to ensure we don't lose low-cost, predictable fares, accessible services, safe cars, and drivers subject to appropriate criminal record checks," the platform states. "We will create a level playing field for all providers, and make sure you can find a safe ride when you need it, including after sporting matches, events and on special occasions, when demand is highest."
The premier's chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, oversaw this issue when he was a Vision Vancouver member of Vancouver city council. Meggs was the council spokesperson who defended a moratorium on new taxi licences and council's refusal to vote in favour of allowing ride-sharing services.
Earlier this month, the B.C. NDP government appointed long-time civil servant Catharine Reid as the new chair of the Passenger Transporation Board.
The B.C. NDP did exceptionally well in the May 9 provincial election in constituencies with large numbers of residents of South Asian ancestry. Most taxi licences are owned by people from this community—and most drivers trace their roots back to the Indian state of Punjab.
After the May 9 provincial election, Uber announced that it is conducting an "urban mapping program" of the Lower Mainland in anticipation of being able to provide ride-sharing.
On Thursday (October 19), Weaver plans to introduce a private member's bill to allow regulated ride-sharing in B.C.
“I hope both parties will take this opportunity to engage in a substantive debate on the details of this issue so that we can move past rhetoric and vague statements and finally get to work delivering for British Columbians,” the B.C. Green leader said.More