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‘The car should be seized’: Green leader calls for crackdown on illegal ride-hailing

Click to play video: 'Illegal ride sharing in B.C.'
Illegal ride sharing in B.C.
An all-party committee has heard about illegal ride-sharing services already operating in Metro Vancouver. Geoff Hastings has the details, including how they're choosy about their customers – Jan 9, 2018

The leader of the BC Green Party says the province should take aggressive action against illegal ride-hailing services operating in B.C.

The Passenger Transportation Branch (PTB) has identified at least seven such services flouting the province’s laws.

The BC Taxi Association says five of them are operating in Richmond, one of which will allegedly only take Chinese passengers.

Illegal operators are subject to a fine of $1,150, and the PTB says $12,650 in fines have been levied so far. But critics say operators treat that as the cost of doing business.

LISTEN: BC Green Party leader on illegal ride-hailing apps

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Speaking on CKNW’s The Jon McComb Show, Andrew Weaver said it’s not fair to allow the services to operate while companies such as Uber have played by the rules and stayed on the sidelines.

“If you are doing ride-sharing illegally your car should be seized, and that will put an end to it,” he said.

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“It’s no longer the cost of doing business, because you’ve lost your car doing the business.”

Global News has requested comment on enforcement of the illegal services from the PTB and Ministry of Transportation.

Richmond Mayor Malcom Brodie said his city is well aware of the problem, but lacks the tools to meaningfully address it.

“You’ve got a provincial jurisdiction, the [PTB], which has the responsibility of the enforcement of the regulations surrounding the ride-sharing,” he told CKNW’s Simi Sara Show.

LISTEN: What is the City of Richmond doing about illegal ride-hailing?

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Brodie said it’s his understanding that most of the fines levied against illegal companies haven’t been paid, and said the quickest solution would be to bring in provincial regulations on ride-hailing.

WATCH: Ride hailing meetings in Vancouver

Click to play video: 'Ride hailing meetings in Vancouver'
Ride hailing meetings in Vancouver

In the meantime, he said, Richmond is trying to crack down on the rogue operators, but said its power is limited to issues around operating without a business license.

He added the city is playing its enforcement plans close to the vest.

“[Talking about them] will just exaggerate the problem and give the ride-hailing service that much more information to avoid the city,” he said
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“But I can tell you that steps are being taken by the city alone, and also we’re assisting the [PTB] in taking steps as well.”

READ MORE: NDP government announces yet another ridesharing study

For Weaver, the solution is far more simple.

“All you need is to order … the ride-sharing [service], and then just fine the driver who picks them up immediately,” he said.

An all-party committee on ride-hailing in B.C. will continue to hear expert testimony in Vancouver on Tuesday and Wednesday, and produce a report on the future of the industry by Feb. 15.

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