News / Vancouver

Uber warns B.C. will fall behind if province doesn’t allow ridesharing app soon

The provincial government may have a better idea of what ridesharing regulations will look like by year end says Minister Fassbender

Vancouver is the only major urban centre in North America that doesn't have Uber, says the company.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Vancouver is the only major urban centre in North America that doesn't have Uber, says the company.

Uber is once again knocking on B.C.’s front door this month, with the company’s chief advisor David Plouffe speaking at a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon Tuesday and an email blast to the province’s 200,000 Uber app users last week.

The provincial government has said it is taking its time creating a “made-in-BC solution” to regulate Uber but the ridesharing company is already operating in more than 40 Canadian communities and Vancouver is not one of them.

“It still blows my mind that when I get off a plane in Vancouver I can’t use Uber,” said Plouffe, once a senior advisor to U.S. president Barack Obama.

He warns B.C. will fall behind if the province doesn’t regulate Uber soon in order to encourage people to drive less and prepare them for what is coming in the future – autonomous cars.

“This isn’t just about whether Uber or our competitor should be here and how that relates to taxis. Something big is happening and it relates to how our cities need to change and the autonomous future that’s going to come down the pipe.”

Chief advisor at Uber, David Plouffe, speaks at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

Wanyee Li/Metro

Chief advisor at Uber, David Plouffe, speaks at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

Plouffe suggests Uber is part of that driverless car future and argues that’s why the taxi industry is not Uber’s main competitor. The technology company is instead focusing on reducing personal car use, he said.

“We never talk about the taxi market. Our market is how people use their personal car,” he said.

But Vancouver’s taxi industry has lobbied hard against allowing Uber into the city, arguing it would threaten their jobs. It is one of the main concerns the provincial government is considering on the Uber file, said Minister Peter Fassbender, who is in charge of the consultation process.

But Plouffe said cab drivers could in fact benefit from the trend of fewer people owning cars. He wants the province to stop dawdling.

“Just do it,” he said.

“Like anything else, just do it and you’ll see … people are going to be using cars less in big numbers and any of us that move people around have an opportunity to get those customers.”

Many Metro Vancouver businesses agree, with 80 per cent reporting they would like to see the rideshare app enter B.C., according to a GVBOT survey released last week.

Fassbender told Metro he is aware of how anxious B.C. residents are to get their hands on Uber, especially after the company sent out an email blast to users last week encouraging people to tell the provincial government why they want to see the ridesharing app in B.C. 

“I was absolutely inundated in my constituency office and in my ministers office with emails from a variety of people so I know Uber has been pushing very hard.”

He said the province has forwarded its public consultation results to stakeholders and is expecting to hear back in a couple of weeks.

The government will probably have a better idea of what ridesharing regulations would look like by the end of this year, he said.

“Then we would have to look at the legislative calendar if we’re going to make changes.” 

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