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Politicians spar over ride-hailing with no action expected before 2018

Last Updated Oct 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm PDT

(YouTube screengrab)

Greater Vancouver Board of Trade urges province to get moving on ride-sharing legislation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Horns continue to honk over delays getting ride hailing services approved in BC

The same week the new NDP government confirmed that — despite its promises — companies like Uber and Lyft won’t be approved by the end of this year, the pressure is building to make them legal sooner than later.

Shortly after Green leader Andrew Weaver introduced a new Private Member’s bill, debate during Question Period featured extensive sparring between the Opposition Liberals and NDP over the failure to approve services like Uber and Lyft over the past five years.

“Is it going to be 2018, 2019, 2020, or gosh forbid, never?” said North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite.

“What is comical is the level of passion from that side of the House, who were in government when Uber first came to BC and said we want to introduce ride sharing. Our government is going to act and we will make change,” said Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

Earlier this week, Trevena announced nothing will be done before a province-wide review of all taxi services is completed early in the new year.

Weaver’s latest version of the Ridesharing Enabling Act has been updated to ensure ICBC can develop an insurance protocol for ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft which currently don’t have to play by the same rules as cab companies in other jurisdictions. The bill has been approved for a second reading at the next sitting of the House.

This is Weaver’s third attempt to get legislation approved, but the first time under the new NDP government’s rule.

Meanwhile, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is urging the province to get moving on legislation to allow ride-sharing in BC.

“With the fall legislative session now well underway, we urge the provincial government to make immediate, meaningful steps toward greater mobility in our region,” says President Iain Black in a news release. “Throughout the last provincial election, our Members made clear that we need more choice when it comes to passenger transportation. All three party leaders pledged to pass ride-sharing enabling legislation by the end of the year, and we call on the new government to follow through.”

“The time has come for British Columbia to embrace new transportation technology and trends. At the same time, we need to enable our traditional taxi industry to modernize and compete on a similar playing field,” adds Black. “We believe both can be achieved, and we are seeing evidence of that in 40 other jurisdictions across Canada where ridesharing is already part of the transportation mix.”

Meantime, Uber Canada has been emailing registered users in BC and asking them to lobby their MLA’s for faster approval.