B.C. Clamps Down on Uber Smartphone Taxi Service, Enforces $75 Fares

uber taxi

Smartphone taxi service Uber continues to face some heat across jurisdictions throughout North America where it is offering its services. Uber was in its testing phase in Vancouver but as it came out of its phase it was notified by the Passenger Transportation Board of BC to increase its fares to $75.

Here’s how Uber explains the situation on their blog:

The Vancouver Limousine industry is governed by the Passenger Transportation Board of British Columbia. The PTB sets rules for Limousine services, and in Vancouver they have set a minimum rate for any trip of $75 (regardless of distance or time travelled). They’ve asked Uber to raise our rates to $75 per trip, and while we have expressed our view that minimum rates DO NOT benefit consumers, we’ll comply while we work with them to figure out a solution that works for our users.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mary Polak issued the following statement regarding Uber and the fares they are charging, just prior to its launch weekend:

Taxi and limousine companies operating in B.C. are licensed under the Passenger Transportation Act with conditions, including the rates they are permitted to charge. Conditions of license for limousine companies include a minimum rate per hour, which is $75 in the Vancouver area. This is intended to ensure a level playing field and to preclude limousines from behaving in the same manner as taxis.

Uber is using rates below those required by the Passenger Transportation Board. We are working with this company, which is providing a new service. However, we must ensure it is fair and that it does not detract from existing businesses that are licensed to operate. In the interim, starting this weekend, the company will use the minimum rate of $75 for each trip.

In a statement to the Georgia Straight, Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick notes not every taxi service abides by that $75 fare rule:

“Yes, we knew about the $75-per-trip mandate when we looked at entering the Vancouver market,” Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick tells the Georgia Straight by phone from Los Angeles. “Of course, almost no one was abiding by that rule. Even today, you can call virtually any limo company in town and get rides for far less than $75. And that’s not just the airport limousines that have an exemption from the rules and charge nearly half that.”

So what do you think? Does Uber have a right to operate on its own fares or should they follow what the PTB stipulates?

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