LEGISLATION introduced on Monday (November 19) by the provincial government will allow ride-hailing companies to enter the B.C. market next year, while putting priority on safety for passengers.
“This is milestone legislation that gets ride-hailing right for B.C.,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “British Columbians absolutely want more options and flexibility in how they get around, but with checks in place to make sure their ride is a safe one.”
If passed, the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act will enable:
* ICBC to develop a modern insurance product for ride-hailing for fall of 2019.
* A new, data-driven approach to improve taxi service and ride-hailing opportunities, particularly at high-demand locations and peak times, by strengthening the Passenger Transportation Board’s authority to determine fares, vehicle supply and operating areas.
* The development of measures to make sure people are not left stranded when traveling from one municipality to another.
* The inclusion of a per-trip fee to fund more accessibility options for people with disabilities.
* Increased enforcement of the rules with stiffer penalties for taxi and ride-hailing companies for working outside the law.
A new, legislative committee will review these changes as regulations are put in place to make sure government is on the right track with modern, safe taxi and ride-hailing service.
In drafting the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act, government’s priority was to make sure British Columbians are safer on the roads, and will be requiring all ride-hailing and taxi drivers to maintain a Class 4 passenger licence and undergo mandatory criminal checks.
With these legislative changes, government expects applications from ride-hailing companies wanting to enter the market will be submitted to the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) by fall 2019.
Earlier this year, the Province adopted a suite of recommendations to modernize the taxi industry, including giving the industry the flexibility to discount fares when trips are booked through an app, and boost the number of cabs throughout B.C. to give people more rides.
October 2017: The Province commits to comprehensive consultation with the existing industry – hires Dan Hara of Hara and Associates to engage with stakeholders industry
February 2018: All-party standing committee delivers report on ridesharing to the legislature.
July 2018: Government announces it is adopting key recommendations brought forward by Hara on modernizing the taxi industry and improving marketplace conditions for ride-hailing companies to enter the market.
November 2018: Government introduces legislative changes that will open the door for ride-hailing companies to enter the market by fall 2019.
Passenger Transportation Amendment Act:
The purpose of the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act is to modernize the legislative framework for passenger-directed vehicles (vehicles for hire, such as taxis) and prepare for the entry of app-based ride-hailing services.
The bill proposes amendments to eight statutes: Passenger Transportation Act, Insurance Vehicle Act, Insurance Corporation Act, Motor Vehicle Act, Commercial Transport Act, Local Government Act, Community Charter, the Vancouver Charter.
Overview of the Bill:
1. Expanding the authority of the Passenger Transportation Board
The Passenger Transportation Board, an independent tribunal, will expand its role in receiving applications and setting out terms and conditions of licences, including taxis, ride-hailing, and passenger-directed vehicles.
The board will have authority to determine the rates charged to passengers, as well as the supply and operating area of vehicles operating under the authority of a licence authorizing transportation network services.
2. Changes to local government
Proposed amendments to local government legislation will restrict authority of municipal governments to limit supply or operating areas of passenger-directed vehicles that the board has approved.
Local governments will still set vehicle type, taxi stand locations and local business-licence requirements.
To further support accessible taxi service, the proposed legislation enables a new per-trip fee to cover a portion of costs to fund accessible taxis, as well as administrative costs of the Passenger Transportation Act. The existing industry would pay current fees for a fixed period before transitioning over to a new fee structure.
4. Legislative committee to be appointed
This bill proposes the appointment of a special committee to review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of the changes, impacts of passenger-directed vehicles on public transportation, traffic congestion and the environment to ensure the Province has a model that works for British Columbians.
5. Record-check requirements
All drivers of passenger-directed vehicles will be required to meet a provincial standard to be set by regulation for criminal and driver record checks by eliminating the need for taxi and future drivers to obtain a municipal chauffeur permit in each municipality.
6. Stricter penalties
The bill proposes increases to administrative penalties for non-compliance of licence holders, as well as increases to the maximum fine amounts for offences, particularly for corporations that contravene the act.
The proposal is for the registrar to have authority under the act to levy administrative penalties up to $50,000 against licensees who do not comply with the act, the regulations or the terms and conditions of their licences. At the extreme end of non-compliance, the registrar has authority to suspend or cancel a licence.
Substantial increases are proposed for those convicted of an offence under the act. For example, for corporations who operate without a licence, the maximum fine amount for a conviction is proposed to be $100,000, with each day where a contravention occurs potentially treated as a separate offence and subject to another maximum fine amount of $100,000.
Amendments are proposed to the Insurance Vehicle Act and the Insurance Corporation Act to ensure ICBC can develop new and innovative insurance products in time for fall 2019.
8. Per-trip fees
The legislation includes provisions that can broaden the existing authority to establish fees, including those related to a per-trip fee. A per-trip fee for new entrants to the industry can help sustain an adequate supply of accessible taxis once the new legislation comes into force.
9. Data collection
The new legislation includes provisions for the board to gather information and data collection to assist in making more evidence-based decision making. For example, the board will have access to information pertaining to trip times, pickup locations, wait-times and type of trip (accessible or non-accessible vehicle).
The Hara Report and the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations emphasized the importance of information and data to help inform decision-making.
Summary of Taxi Modernization Recommendations – as announced in Phase 1:
Increasing taxi fleets –
The board implemented a streamlined process that gives taxi licensees an opportunity to apply to expand their fleets by up to 15%. The deadline for applying is closed. Of the applications received, approximately 445 taxis have been requested.
Enable taxi-rate competitiveness –
The Passenger Transportation Board is giving industry the flexibility to lower metered taxi fares in off-peak hours for app-hailed trips. The implementation date will be September 2019.
Improve taxi availability at shift change –
The board is allowing taxi licensees to increase their fleet size to operate single-shift cars.