Ahead of the May election, the B.C. government has announced ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft will be coming to the province, hopefully by December of this year, reports CBC News, which attended the 11AM PST press conference.
Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure, said services are expected to launch in December. “British Columbians have made it very clear that there is a demand for services that ride-sharing companies provide.”
Peter Fassbender, minister responsible for TransLink, said the government would take a “made in B.C.” approach for ride-sharing. The decisions announced today override previous legislation which banned ride-sharing companies from operating in B.C.
Stone said to establish a “level playing field” between taxi companies and ride-sharing companies, new measures will be introduced, according to the CBC:
- New, app-based technology allowing the public to hire and pay for cabs as they would a shared ride. (Cost: $1 million)
- New crash-prevention software in all B.C. taxis to improve passenger safety and avoid collisions. (Cost: $3.5 million)
- Granting taxis exclusive rights to be hired by phone, at a stand, or from the curb.
- Giving cabs and ride-sharing drivers equal access to cross municipal boundaries.
- Addressing the provincial taxi shortage.
Stone explained, “Our approach over the next nine months will be to continue to be very thoughtful and very deliberate … to introduce a fullsome sweep of policies that will be well-informed. We want to get this worked out soon and get it worked out right.”
Safety standards will apply to both ride-sharing companies and taxi companies, including the following for drivers:
- Have an unrestricted driver’s licence.
- Be at least 19 years of age.
- Pass a safe driving record check.
- Have vehicles inspected regularly.
- Pass a criminal record check for past convictions of violent and/or sexual offences, as well as other crimes.
The province says it will work with cabbies, police departments, municipalities, airports, Road Safety B.C. and ICBC to launch a rollout plan.