Ride hailing is operating in Toronto and other North American cities, but B.C. hasn’t licensed any services yet. (Flickr)

B.C. to add hundreds of taxis, delays Uber, Lyft-style service again

Ride hailing companies have to wait until fall of 2019 to apply for licences

The B.C. government is moving to update taxi regulations for the new era of smartphone-based ride hailing, adding new taxi licences and putting off competitors like Uber and Lyft until late 2019 at the earliest.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced Thursday she is accepting recommendations from an independent consultant, starting with adding up to 300 more cabs in the Lower Mainland and another 200 across the province.

The B.C. government needs to amend six pieces of outdated legislation this fall before it can accept applications under a new licensing system, Trevena told a news conference in Vancouver. Applications from competing services should be accepted by the end of 2019, but altering vehicle insurance regulations “might take a little bit longer,” Trevena said.

With Metro Vancouver the last major metropolitan area in North America that still doesn’t allow ride hailing, Trevena said B.C. is unique in its tangle of municipal and provincial regulations, plus the “independent” Passenger Transportation Board to grant licences.

In the last election campaign, the NDP promised regulations to allow private ride hailing by the end of 2017. Trevena later put that off until the end of 2018, and the latest announcement could take the actual arrival of services to compete with taxis into 2020.

RELATED: Pressure on for ride hailing, bus options

Transportation consultant Dan Hara described the overlapping jurisdiction for taxi operators, where applicants have to show a need for more service and competitors can oppose the application. Municipalities also have a role, and a taxi operator may have to apply for a half dozen municipal operating permits, each requiring a personal appearance, Hara said.

The restrictions also affect taxis accessible for people with disabilities, which cost more to buy and operate. Hara suggests the province consider subsidizing accessible taxis for smaller communities, where scarce taxi licensed haven’t been bid up to six figure amounts by taxi companies.

In urban areas, “taxi operators willingly pay the extra $35,000 to $50,000 for an accessible taxi if it comes with a taxi licence that is worth substantially more on the private market,” the report states.

Taxi companies will also be given the ability to offer discount fares if they are ordered through the company’s smartphone app, Trevena said.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kelowna Warriors edge Vernon Vipers 6-4

The teams meet again on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. for the final game of regular season

Prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase from Kelowna to Abbotsford

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

Central Okanagan school superintendent addresses technology’s impact on students

Physical and mental well being for students key themes during Kevin Kaardal’s presentation

Westbank First Nation Grand Chief Noll Derriksan passes away

Derriksan was 79 at the time of his passing

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read