It looks like British Columbia might have to wait even longer for the introduction of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.
According to a new report from Global News, B.C. Premier John Horgan is backing out of a government commitment to deliver such ride-hailing services to the province by Christmas of this year. Horgan admits his government is under pressure to make the taxi industry more competitive, but he confirms no target date has been set.
“I’ve had ten months to work on it and I’m going to need a couple months more,” said Horgan. “We have public auto insurance here in the province that makes us unique.”
Vancouver is the largest municipality in North America without ride-hailing services, and Horgan committed to introducing companies like Uber and Lyft to the province in his election campaign.
“I’m confident we’ll have announcements to make early in the fall and later in the fall on both improving the taxi industry and also looking ride-hailing into the future,” says Horgan.
Beyond the aforementioned insurance issues, one of the main challenges B.C. faces is bringing in ride-hailing alongside the existing taxi industry, the latter of which Horgan does not intend to cripple and/or ruin.
“The government has received a report on the taxi industry,” he explains. “It’s now in the hands of the Minister of Transportation. She’s looking at improvements we can make in the existing taxi industry to make sure that these barriers between municipalities come down. We have to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t destroy the industry as we have it today.”
He admits he’s also worried about what might happen once there is more competition.
“We have to look at what the impact would be on the existing industry,” Horgan explains. “There’s literally family businesses that are going to be adversely affected by the introduction of competition. That competition has to have the same training, the same level of background checks, the same insurance.”
While Horgan does indeed seem dedicated to the task of bringing ride-hailing to the province, many believe that the timeframe has been extended too long. One of these individuals is Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who was under the impression the government was going to have ride-hailing companies working in the province this year.
“There is nothing stopping us,” says Weaver. “One has to recognize that modernizing the taxi industry does not preclude also enabling ride-hailing to occur. There are different business models and they can work side by side. The report has been sitting on the minister’s desk for quite some time. Let’s get some action here.”
Vancouver-based interior designer and TV host, Jillian Harris, recently ‘ranted’ about the city’s taxi industry, after she says a cabbie denied her a ride from Port Moody to downtown Vancouver.