B.C. Premier John Horgan is backing away from a government commitment to deliver ride-hailing in the province by Christmas 2018. The province is in the midst of reviewing a report but is running out of time to have cars on the road in six months.
“I’ve had ten months to work on it and I’m going to need a couple months more,” said Horgan. “We have public auto insurance here in the province that makes us unique.”
The issue is once again in the news because interior designer and TV star Jillian Harris took to Instagram to complain about Coquitlam-based Bel-Air taxi’s refusal to provide her a ride from Port Moody to downtown Vancouver. Harris went on to say the driver offered to give her a ride to a SkyTrain station, but would not take her on the full trip, which she said would have taken about 20 minutes.
Vancouver is the largest municipality in North America without ride-hailing services. Horgan committed in the election campaign to get companies like Uber and Lyft operating here.
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Aside from public insurance, one of the major challenges the province is facing is the existing taxi industry. Horgan has long said he does not want to do anything that will cripple the industry or ruin current taxi drivers.
“The government has received a report on the taxi industry. It’s now in the hands of the Minister of Transportation. She’s looking at improvements we can make in the existing taxi industry to make sure that these barriers between municipalities come down,” said Horgan. “We have to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t destroy the industry as we have it today.”
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has been pushing for ride-hailing services in B.C., and was a member of the legislative committee looking into the issue. He was under the impression the government was going to have ride-hailing companies working in the province this year.
“There is nothing stopping us. One has to recognize that modernizing the taxi industry does not preclude also enabling ride-hailing to occur. There are different business models and they can work side by side,” said Weaver. “The report has been sitting on the minister’s desk for quite some time. Let’s get some action here.”