VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Taxi Association may not like but the provincial government’s decision to allow ride-hailing by the holidays is a move being applauded by the BC Chamber of Commerce.
President and CEO Val Litwin says it’s about competition and having a level playing field for the industry. “Our guests when they come to this incredible city, they expect that service and convenience. This is a good thing for the BC economy just when you look at it through the lens of tourism, but I also think the sharing economy is here to stay. We’re not going to stop it, so it’s about making sure we have the regulations in place.”
He adds, anecdotally, he’s heard about cruise ship passengers having trouble hailing a cab when arriving in Vancouver’s harbour. “[They say] ‘We couldn’t get from A to B.’ I think there is excess capacity that isn’t being served right now. From a competition standpoint, I think they’re looking at that from a legislative perspective.”
There are questions surrounding what kind of reception the ride-hailing services will receive in Metro Vancouver once it’s rolled out.
A city councillor in San Diego says things went over well in that city, at least when it came to customers.
But admittedly not everyone was thrilled points out Councillor Mark Kersey. “The taxi cabs weren’t very happy because they previously dominated that market and really the growth of Uber and Lyft has come at the expense of the taxi industry.”
The province has promised to help taxis modernize, something Kersey says can be a bit of a struggle with the entrenched industry. “We certainly, as policy makers, encourage them to be more innovative and offer more of the customer-centric features that people like about Uber. But the taxis have been around for a long time and they’re not necessarily embracing that same style of innovation.”
Kersey adds government approval doesn’t mean the end of the discussion he says to expect additional debate over the next couple of years.
The Vancouver Taxi Association says it will fight the province’s decision both “politically and legally.” Ride-hailing will come to BC should the Liberals get re-elected during the May 9th provincial election.