No rideshares in 2017 as B.C. orders new report
Liberal and Green parties fume as NDP delay decision on ride sharing into next year and hire consultant to draft new report.
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Any Vancouverites hoping to take an Uber in 2017 can take a hike.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced Monday that the NDP has hired industry expert Dan Hara to draft a new report and recommendations for ridesharing in British Columbia, which pushes any possible government legislation around the services to Fall 2018.
This is after the previous Liberal government promised to introduce ridesharing – which has been widely available elsewhere for years – in time for the holidays and after the NDP itself promised to “support the passing of new rules to introduce ridesharing to B.C. in 2017” in May.
“We know that people are impatient for a change in the system. We know that we have the desperate rush for taxis in different areas … we know there are huge problems for people who want to use the taxi service or other services,” said Trevena, defending the commissioning of a new report. “We need to move on it. [But] we need to move on it in a sensible way. Not in a political way but in a sensible way that respects the industry that we have and respects the needs of people in B.C.”
Hara’s report and recommendations will be due in “early 2018” and a government statements says it now plans to bring in ridesharing services by the end of that year.
The announcement did not go over well with other political parties or groups like the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, which has been pushing for more transportation options in the region.
“There’s no question that it’s something that the people of British Columbia want. There’s a groundswell that suggests that this is something that has to happen here, so let’s get on with it,” said Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy. “We need it as an alternative. Where I live, we don’t even have a taxi industry. Rural British Columbia would really take advantage of this technology to provide an alternative where there is no transit system.”
Green leader Andrew Weaver said he will introduce his own legislation this week in an attempt to regulate ridesharing.
“I am very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ridesharing to British Columbians by the end of the year,” said Weaver in a statement. “We cannot be tech innovators if we’re not willing to embrace innovation.”
Greater Vancouver Board of Trade president Iain Black was unavailable for comment but communications manager Greg Hoekstra said in an email, “It’s safe to say that we are disappointed by today’s news”.
Trevena said the previous Liberal government’s rideshare plan was “derided” by the taxi industry and that the NDP is trying to find a more constructive approach.
She also said previous studies have not been clear on how best to regulate and insure the ridesharing industry between the province, individual municipalities and the Passenger Transportation Board.
“We need to understand how it really works in B.C. to get onto the next steps and I don’t think that work has been done,” she said. “That’s why we’re taking this move.”