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Why it may be taking so long to bring ride-hailing to BC

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Summary

The BC NDP is conducting a review on ride-hailing services despite promises to bring them to BC by the end of last year

One expert believes "backroom political games" are behind the delay

A three-day all-party meeting was held in Vancouver where Uber representatives were able to make their case

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – As we wait to find out if or when ride-hailing comes to this province, there seems to be some curiosity as to why it’s taking the government so long to bring it in. And one expert feels backroom political games appear to be stalling a final decision.

Right now, it’s being studied by the BC NDP with a review not due out until sometime early this year, despite the party promising to implement it by the end of 2017. “I think this is about politicians who don’t have the guts to make tough calls. The issue is plain, either you allow them or you don’t and either you regulate them or you don’t. And I think a lot of this is window dressing so that politicians can build to cover,” explains SFU Political Scientist David Moscrop.

In other words, he points out, this is like old-school politics. “A bunch of groups who want different things battling it out in the public to try and get their way. And if you’re curious about which way it’s likely to go, look and see where the most power is and where the most money is — that’s usually where the results are.”

It’s known the taxi industry carries some weight within BC politics and Moscrop was asked how much of a factor that is when it comes to ride-hailing. “Part of it is the taxi industry is a powerful lobby but the quote-unquote ride-sharing industry is also a powerful lobby. And the public seems to want ride-sharing as well to the extent they want it but aren’t getting it, sure they’re getting a bit of a run-around from the government.”

He adds despite what looks like a stalling tactic, ride-hailing will come here, and he thinks sooner than later.

Moscrop says the NDP is in a bit of a tough position because they have to manage not only Uber, but also the taxi industry, the Green Party and public demand and he’s not sure why things have stalled. “[The NDP] may be using this as well as a way to negotiate with the Greens on other issues, there might be a little bit of horse-trading going on through… their agreement. It’s hard to know why exactly why [they’re stalled] but there’s probably some combination of managing interests.”

Earlier this week, a three-day all-party ride-hailing committee meeting took place where representatives from Uber were able to make their case. The idea was to discuss the issue, but nothing was resolved.

The NDP government said previously ride-hailing, if approved, wouldn’t be implemented any time before the spring.