Uber and Lyft have been in discussions with Halifax Regional Municipality staff over whether ride-hailing services can be introduced in the city.
“The discussion was around regulations. If it’s up to Uber or Lyft, they would rather come into a municipality like ours with very little or no regulations,” Halifax Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini told CBC Nova Scotia News.
“We need some basic regulation because when we look at cities across North America where that type of service is offered and there are no regulations, there are problems.”
Mancini believes rules like mandatory background checks for drivers should be necessary as well as rules that outline the type of insurance ride-hailing services will need to operate. He doesn’t believe Uber and Lyft need the same strict regulations as the taxi industry, as they would prevent the services from setting up in Halifax.
Mancini thinks that it’s time for the taxi industry to change and he believes increased competition from ride-hailing will help.
“I was at the festival this weekend, the jazz festival, and people kept coming up to me and talking about taxis and they say, ‘When are we going to get Uber? When are we going to get Lyft in here?'” said Mancini.
“There is a problem with our taxi industry. I represent Dartmouth and I constantly hear about not being able to get a cab in Dartmouth, or get back to Dartmouth.”
Currently, there are no laws in Halifax preventing ride-hailing companies from operating, but they would be required to follow the same regulations as taxis. That includes having drivers get a taxi license, something that is not required in other cities where ride-hailing services are in operation.
Under current regulations, Uber or Lyft could operate in Halifax as a dispatcher, like Casino or Yellow, but they would have to employ people with taxi owner licences. These owner licences, which are different from personal cab licences, are tied to a vehicle and are required for any cab in the municipality, but the waitlist to get one is hundreds of names long.
For companies like Uber or Lyft to operate in the municipality with a ride-share model, the municipality’s regulations would need to change.
In a survey conducted by HRM last year, 88 percent of respondents said they wanted Uber or Lyft to come to Halifax. HRM Ride Hail is now hoping to collect 10,000 signatures on their petition.