October 24, 2017 11:15 pm

Vancouver taxi expert says B.C. dragging its heels on Uber

An expert on the Vancouver taxi industry says a one year wait for services like Uber is too long.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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An analyst who did an in-depth study on Vancouver’s taxi market says he doesn’t understand why B.C. needs to wait a year to implement ride-hailing services like Uber.

Benn Proctor, currently an analyst with the Wilson Center in Washington D.C., wrote his master’s thesis on the taxi industry in 2014 while at Simon Fraser University.

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From Proctor’s perspective, there are issues that still need to be ironed out, such as whether the province should compensate taxi licence holders, and if so, how much. But he said those details aren’t enough reason to get on with implementation of the service.

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“Vancouver can do a lot better and support a lot more vehicles, whether it’s taxi vehicles, whether it’s ridesharing vehicles. At the time I looked at it [in 2014], Vancouver was the worst city in Canada.”

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B.C.’s NDP government has commissioned yet another review of the ride-for-hire industry, focusing specifically on taxis. That report is due next year, with the government saying the earliest British Columbians might see ride-hailing will be next fall.

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But compared to other Canadian jurisdictions, Metro Vancouver is lagging in terms of available rides.

“There are plenty of examples all across North America that have instituted really sound, good ridesharing regulations. By waiting longer we are only depriving citizens of the benefits,” Proctor said.

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With a population of about 2.5 million, Metro Vancouver has about 2,000 taxis.

Toronto, by comparison, has 5,500 cabs serving a population of about three million, while Montreal has 4,000 taxis serving 1.7 million people.

Both cities also permit Uber.

Ahead of the spring election, both the NDP and the BC Liberals pledged to have ride-hailing services in place by the end of 2017.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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