Despite ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft already successfully in place in other parts of the country, British Columbia continues to lag behind, which is why MADD Canada, BarWatch and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, are calling on the province to approve ridesharing in 2018, without further delay.
“Ridesharing is a key tool for improving safety by reducing impaired driving and helping to clear out entertainment districts after bars close,” said Tracy Crawford, MADD Canada Regional Director for British Columbia and Yukon, in a press release. “Further delays cannot be justified. Ridesharing legislation should be implemented this fall and not delayed another year. With the legalization of cannabis taking place this fall, more than ever British Columbians need a ridesharing option.”
Last week, BC Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced legislation for ridesharing would be again further delayed until the fall of 2019. Previously, the NDP government promised ridesharing would become available for British Columbians at the end of 2017, and again promised for the end of 2018.
“Providing more options for British Columbians to get to and from areas like Vancouver’s Granville Street will help improve safety on our streets,” said Curtis Robinson, chair of BarWatch, in a statement. “It creates a lot of unnecessary tension when you have large numbers of people who have been drinking stuck in one area, unable to get home. Bringing ridesharing to B.C. will help get people home safely, faster.”
MADD Canada says the majority of impaired driving incidents happen at night and on weekends, while the busiest times for ridesharing occurs late at night when bars are closing, based on data from the American Public Transportation Association.
“Metro Vancouver has a serious safety issue,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, in a statement. “The existing supply-managed Taxi monopoly doesn’t work during times of peak demand, when impaired driving is a serious concern, along with other public safety challenges. Simply adding a few more taxis will not solve the problem. We need a system without supply caps and boundaries to ensure that the suburbs and all of Vancouver gets the service it needs. Ridesharing would address that.”
Citing research from Temple University, the introduction of Uber in a city revealed a drop of 3.6% to 5.6% in the numbers of people killed in alcohol-related car crashes.
One rep from the Vancouver Police Department said at an all-party committee on ridesharing the impacts on bar closing hours can be significant, citing discussion with a police department in neighbouring Alberta, where Uber is available. With ridesharing available, streets outside bars were cleared faster, enabling people to get home safely.
Stewart told CTV News, “I’ve actually spoken with other jurisdictions about how this got implemented, and it doesn’t take this long,” adding “It can’t possibly take 2½ years to put in place a regime that supports ride-sharing.”
MADD Canada and Uber announced last year a long term partnership to promote safe and sober driving in the country, with the Uber app now the official designated driving app of MADD Canada.