Ride hailing is operating in Toronto and other North American cities, but B.C. hasn’t licensed any services yet. (Flickr)

B.C. to add hundreds of taxis, delays Uber, Lyft-style service again

Ride hailing companies have to wait until fall of 2019 to apply for licences

The B.C. government is moving to update taxi regulations for the new era of smartphone-based ride hailing, adding new taxi licences and putting off competitors like Uber and Lyft until late 2019 at the earliest.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced Thursday she is accepting recommendations from an independent consultant, starting with adding up to 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland and another 200 across the province.

The B.C. government needs to amend six pieces of outdated legislation this fall before it can accept applications under a new licensing system, Trevena told a news conference in Vancouver. Applications from competing services should be accepted by the end of 2019, but altering vehicle insurance regulations “might take a little bit longer,” Trevena said.

With Metro Vancouver the last major metropolitan area in North America that still doesn’t allow ride hailing, Trevena said B.C. is unique in its tangle of municipal and provincial regulations, plus the “independent” Passenger Transportation Board to grant licences.

In the last election campaign, the NDP promised regulations to allow private ride hailing by the end of 2017. Trevena later put that off until the end of 2018, and the latest announcement could take the actual arrival of services to compete with taxis into 2020.

RELATED: Pressure on for ride hailing, bus options

Transportation consultant Dan Hara described the overlapping jurisdiction for taxi operators, where applicants have to show a need for more service and competitors can oppose the application. Municipalities also have a role, and a taxi operator may have to apply for a half dozen municipal operating permits, each requiring a personal appearance, Hara said.

The restrictions also affect taxis accessible for people with disabilities, which cost more to buy and operate. Hara suggests the province consider subsidizing accessible taxis for smaller communities, where scarce taxi licensed haven’t been bid up to six figure amounts by taxi companies.

In urban areas, “taxi operators willingly pay the extra $35,000 to $50,000 for an accessible taxi if it comes with a taxi licence that is worth substantially more on the private market,” the report states.

Taxi companies will also be given the ability to offer discount fares if they are ordered through the company’s smartphone app, Trevena said.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Unusual smell in water’ not a health concern, says City of Abbotsford

Odour is just temporary due to treatment-plant maintenance, city says

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

Man charged with hit-and-run that killed pedestrian in Abbotsford

Man in his 50s died after being struck by vehicle on Highway 11 in October 2019

Fraser Valley Bandits reflect on 2020 turnaround

Abbotsford-based CEBL team goes from worst to almost first at Summer Series

Vedder River gets reprieve from gravel removal this summer

Applications withdrawn by river management committee and process concluded for 2020

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ to find Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

Canucks fan risks life to celebrate at Surrey intersection

‘All fun and games until somebody falls out an open side door of the van’

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

Most Read