The politicians governing Vancouver like to bill the city as North America’s tech-hub of the future. A shining city of glass and fiber optics where digital corporations such as Microsoft, Slack, and Amazon can boast of their presence here.
And so imagine the shock and incredulity that these companies’ American employees must feel when they step out of the international terminal at YVR, hit the Uber button on their smartphones, and find the ride-hailing service is not available in Vancouver.
Shaking their heads, they proceed to the back of the terminal’s long line for taxi cabs, wondering if the flight they just departed was actually a journey back in time.
Come this March, other tech hubs such as San Francisco will have had Uber for an entire decade. Meanwhile, Vancouver city council will receive a report on Monday (January 14) that only takes yet another small step toward one day hopefully allowing ride-hailing here.
“The City of Vancouver has been invited to present at a public hearing of the Provincial Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations as part of an inquiry into four key areas of Provincial ride-hailing legislation passed in November 2018,” it begins. “This opportunity to provide input will represent the fourth time the City has been invited to provide input into the development of ride-hailing policies for British Columbia.”
As Vancouver city staff suggest, the holdup is really all the fault of the provincial government.
Former Liberal premier Christy Clark and now NDP premier John Horgan have for many years refused to amend provincial legislation to make ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft legal in B.C.
And so cities like Vancouver continue to go back and forth with their counterparts in Victoria.
The document going to council next week focuses on regional coordination, passenger safety, accessibility, carbon emissions, and economic viability.
It concludes with a recommendation that councillors endorse the principles outlined therein, all of which are straightforward and unlikely to attract much debate.
“Staff will conduct more detailed analysis and provide a more comprehensive report with key findings and recommended options for ride-hailing in the second quarter of 2019,” the report adds.