Vancouver Taxi Companies Increase Efforts to Remove Geographic Boundaries for Passenger Pickup

Taxi companies in Vancouver are leveling the playing field with ride-sharing companies.

According to a new report from the Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey and Vancouver are the first city councils in the Lower Mainland to approve a regional business licence for ride-hailing, which will allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate seamlessly across municipal boundaries.

The move comes as taxi companies renew their efforts to push the province to remove geographic boundaries that prevent taxis from picking up and dropping off passengers freely around Metro Vancouver.

City Council approved several amendments to modernize the City’s Vehicle for Hire and Business Licence Bylaws with the aim of establishing fair competition in Surrey between ride-hailing vehicles and the highly regulated taxi industry. Council also approved the Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) for ride-hailing at last night’s Regular Council meeting.

“I am pleased that Council approved the amendments to our City bylaws to support a level playing field between taxis and ride-hailing vehicles,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “We are doing what we can within the City’s jurisdiction to create equitable competition between taxis and ride-hailing companies. I will continue to advocate that the Province and the Passenger Transportation Board do their part in supporting a fair competitive market for those employed in these industries.”

Under the changes, Surrey’s taxi fleet and per-vehicle annual fees have been reduced to match the IMBL. Taxis will be allowed to operate in marked bus lanes, and cab companies will be able to use vehicles up to 10-years-old, matching Uber and Lyft’s fleet rules.

“Now, the fees for Surrey taxicabs is set at a company fee of $155 and a vehicle fee of $150 per vehicle, dropping from $161.75 and $441,” reads the report. “Council also decided to permit cabs to travel in marked bus lanes, and allow cabs that are wheelchair-accessible to park in accessible parking lots while picking up or dropping off passengers that are parked in city-owned lots.”

An online petition against taxi regulation says current laws force drivers to return in empty cabs after dropping off passengers in neighbouring municipalities.

This so-called deadheading regulation is an inefficient use of taxi fleets, claim proponents, increasing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and leading to higher costs and longer wait-times for passengers.