Representatives from Uber and the taxi industry came together to discuss a variety of possible solutions to address Metro Vancouver’s cab shortage problem.
The two parties came forward before an all-party committee of the B.C. legislature on Monday. The Vancouver Taxi Association addressed the group pitching an all-in-one app that would connect customers to any available taxi or ride-sharing service that is available. In a statement, Spokesperson Carolyn Bauer said:
“We know that the needs of the public are not being met. Frequently, people are waiting far too long for taxi service, and we need improved access and payment systems based on the latest and best technologies to provide the public with the taxi service it rightfully is demanding and deserves.”
The proposed all-in-one app would be developed by a third-party company, which would not receive public funding. It’s still unclear how long the app would take to develop. Bauer urged the government not to flood the market with a bunch of ride-sharing services. She said:
“There is no public interest in having an oversupply of [rides], which will occur in an unregulated market. Not only will that cause traffic disruption, it will also lead to destructive competition between taxi providers where it is difficult if not impossible for anyone in the industry to make a reasonable living.”
The idea that the market doesn’t have room for both ride-sharing and taxi apps was also challenged by an Uber’s representative. Uber’s public policy manager for Western Canada Michael van Hemmen said:
“Fundamentally it goes against everything I believe in, which is the need for competition in the marketplace. While I think it’s innovative, I’ll tell you up front I can’t support this one-size-fits-all solution. If I want to take Black Top or Yellow Cab, I choose that. If there’s a one-size app, it knocks the competition out.”
The idea that the market doesn’t have room for both taxis and ride-hailing apps was also challenged by Uber’s representative, Michael van Hemmen.
Van Hemmen, the company’s public policy manager for Western Canada, argued the taxi industry’s concerns are overblown, and tried to portray his company’s service as part of a wider push away from Metro Vancouverites’ reliance on personal vehicles.
“In every city across North America where Uber exists, taxis still exist. In fact, one taxi company in Toronto said that they’re having their best year ever. We view our primary competition as a personal automobile. We want to find ways that you will choose not to drive yourself, but instead choose Uber and public transit, bike sharing and car sharing, and other sustainable alternatives.”
There is no question that something needs to change. As Van Hemmen pointed out, Vancouver recently had a hectic holiday season, which saw many people face long waits to get home from parties. This was clear proof that a new approach is long overdue. as proof that a new approach is overdue.
[via CTV News]