What were Passenger Transportation Board members smoking? Irresponsible decisions are creating problems

THE utter absurdity of some decisions by the Passenger Transportation Board such as no initial limits on the ride-hailing companies’ fleet size and allowing price surging for them makes one wonder what the board members were smoking.

To aggravate the situation, while the ride-hailing companies will have larger operating areas, the taxi companies are restricted to their municipalities. Indeed, how fair is that to taxi drivers who have to feed their families!

Claire Trevena

No wonder the NDP government has reacted the way it has with B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena writing to the chairwoman of the board about her concerns regarding congestion resulting from having no limit on the ride-hailing fleets and B.C. Premier John Horgan writing to the Vancouver Taxi Association promising support for the taxi drivers.

John Horgan

Horgan wants the review on fleet size of ride-hailing companies to take place “in a timely way so the taxi sector doesn’t experience serious economic dislocation before a supply or cap decision occurs.”   

And nine taxi companies have asked the B.C. Supreme Court to quash the PTB rules.

Last week, The VOICE carried reactions by Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, Delta Mayor George Harvie, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and Sav Dhaliwal, who is Board Chair of Metro Vancouver Regional District and a Burnaby councillor, about the congestion and pollution that would result from having no limits on the fleet size of ride-hailing companies.

The PTB cannot be allowed to do whatever it pleases just because it is an independent entity. It is expected to use common sense.

McCallum stated the obvious very aptly: “These new regulations would allow ride-hailing companies the ability to pick up across boundaries, while the taxi industry must abide by limits. This would create an unlevel playing field.

“I am also not in favour of allowing unlimited fleet size for ride-hailing companies. This lack of regulation will negatively impact the environment and increase congestion.”

The PTB members need to give their heads a good shake or resign.

A lawyer for Etsey Bomberger LLP addressing a press conference.
Videosnatch from Facebook

MEANWHILE, in California, the law firm of Etsey Bomberger LLP held a press conference to announce that 14 victims of sexual assault have filed a lawsuit against Lyft for allegedly failing to respond adequately to what they call a “sexual predator crisis” among drivers on its platform, according to www.businessinsider.com.

“Complaints to Lyft by female customers who have been attacked by Lyft drivers, combined with subsequent criminal investigations by law enforcement, clearly establish that Lyft has been fully aware of these continuing attacks by sexual predators driving for Lyft,” according to court documents filed in California’s Supreme Court in San Francisco.

In one instance, a blind woman says her driver followed her into the grocery store after giving her a ride, and offered to give her a free ride home off the app, in violation of Lyft’s policies. Later, he forced his way into her home and raped her, the lawsuit claims.

It took one week for Lyft to respond to the unidentified victim’s claim, the lawsuit says, and never followed up again after telling the victim to provide a subpoena or legal order from police as part of their investigation. No prosecution was ever made, the lawsuit claims, reports www.businessinsider.com.

“If Lyft had made a few basic changes to the app, the police would have the evidence that this incident was not consensual,” the complaint reads.

The news report said that Lyft has added some tools in recent months, like the ability to share trip details with a friend. Riders and drivers can contact a critical response safety line at any time of the day or night.

Also, a direct-to-911 button is in the works and should be released inside the app within a few weeks. Uber has had an emergency button in its app since 2018.

“Lyft has had four years to address these issues and they chose not to,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Stephen Estey, said at a press conference Wednesday.