WeChat is a Chinese language social media network being used for ride sharing in Vancouver. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Green leader Andrew Weaver calls for ride sharing rules in B.C.

Service already ‘operating under the table’ in Vancouver

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is calling on the NDP government to move ahead with regulation of ride sharing services by the end of the year.

“I think they need to be pushed in that direction,” Weaver said Monday, noting that an unregulated service is already operating in Vancouver using the China-based social network WeChat.

Services acting without regulation and extra vehicle insurance should be stopped from “operating under the table,” and ICBC should create an insurance category for ride sharing drivers, he said.

Weaver told reporters he has discussed the issue with one of the city’s largest taxi operators, and they are ready to take on the competition. He says services such as Uber and Lyft should not be allowed to pick up people on the street unless they have placed an order through their phone app, and the services should not be allowed to service the airport, a key area of business for taxi companies.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena issued a statement saying the ministry is “well aware of the urgent need to overhaul B.C.’s regulations for taxis and passenger-directed vehicles to open the way for a ‘made in B.C.’ ride-sharing solution that meets consumers’ needs while creating a level playing field for all service providers.”

Weaver plans to re-introduce legislation he proposed in February, waiting until October for the NDP government to present its priority legislation first.

All parties promised to introduce ride sharing in the spring election, but Weaver wants it done by the end of 2017, as was promised in the NDP election platform. Neither Trevena’s statement nor her mandate letter from Premier John Horgan specifies a target date for regulating and licencing ride sharing.

Weaver cited a study of Austin, Texas, where ride sharing was allowed and then banned due to insurance concerns. People began driving their cars more and buying more cars, he said.

Vancouver is the only major city in North America that doesn’t regulate ride sharing, and he said he has had difficulty getting to meetings there because he couldn’t get a taxi to pick him up from the seaplane terminal.