Government increasing number of taxis and laying groundwork for rideshare companies

Claire Trevena

THE B.C. government announced on Thursday it is increasing the number of taxis on the streets, while easing the way for other rideshare services to offer services to British Columbians by fall 2019.

“People need to be able to get around safely and reliably,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “That’s why we’re putting more taxis on the streets, and laying the groundwork for new services to enter the market.”

These first steps in the action plan are intended to improve marketplace conditions for innovative transportation companies. Government expects applications from rideshare companies wanting to enter the market will be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) by September 2019.

Last fall, the government hired industry expert, Dan Hara of Hara Associates, to consult with industry and stakeholders. Hara was tasked with recommending ways to help people move around how they want and when they want, while maintaining accessibility and safety standards for British Columbians.

A report, released in February 2018 by an all-party legislative committee, identified the need to modernize the Passenger Transportation Act. These recommendations, along with Hara’s report, will help government create a new regulatory framework and legislative changes that will pave the way for ridesharing to come to B.C.

The ministry will immediately begin working with the PTB to implement a number of the changes Hara has recommended. They include:

* Boosting the number of taxis to make it easier for people to get around, quickly.
* Hara suggests a 15% increase, which would translate to approximately 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland, and 200 more cabs throughout the rest of the province.

* Giving the taxi industry the flexibility to discount fares when trips are booked through an app.
* Customers like the convenience and security of booking and paying with an app. The PTB will better enable companies to use this technology as part of their approach to fares.

* Equipping the PTB with better data to make smarter decisions on meeting transportation demand, including the number of accessible vehicles required.

Government’s action plan on ridesharing includes:

* Retaining Hara to assist and advise government, and working with the PTB to further consult with industry, including major rideshare stakeholders.

* Implementing policy changes through the PTB.

* Working with the PTB on data collection and analysis.

Government is preparing legislation for the fall session. The focus of the fall legislation will be:

* Consumer safety, and enforcement.

* Streamlining licence applications for drivers.

* Supply and boundaries for taxis, and other passenger-directed vehicles (rideshares).

* Working with ICBC to enable a modern insurance product.


To read Hara’s report, click here: