B.C. Premier John Horgan says legislation will be passed by the end of the month that will open the doors for ride-hailing services in British Columbia. However, there won’t be any Uber or Lyft vehicles on the road until at least the fall of 2019.
“The former government had five years from the first request for involvement in the ride-hailing sector from ride-hailing companies,” said Horgan. “Within the next two weeks, it will be introduced and I expect with the amount of support we have in the legislature, it will be passed.”
The B.C. Government is running out of time on the legislative session. There are only eight days left scheduled for the fall legislative sessions. MLAs wrap up the session on Thursday, Nov. 29 and are not sitting this week.
The province has been grappling with how to pass a growing pile of legislation. NDP House leader Mike Farnworth opened a second legislative chamber, the little house, in order to allow for two bills to be debated at the same time.
Horgan’s government must also count on the B.C. Liberals not to delay the passage of the legislation.
The Opposition recently spent nearly a week debating changes to recall campaign legislation. The province passed the legislation last week by using closure, a legislative tool to end debate.
The NDP will also need to have the support of the Greens to pass the ride-hailing legislation. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is in support of the industry but could be concerned if the legislation does provide restrictions on companies like Uber and Lyft.
Once the legislation is passed, the province must work with ICBC to create a proper insurance package and then start reviewing applications from companies wanting to operate in the province.
“The legislation will be in next week,” said Horgan. “And then we will go into the significant changes for our insurance packages for those who want to drive, there will be additional criminal record checks. We want to make sure the playing field is level for those already in the sector and those new entrants.”
As people wait for the ride-hailing rules to change, the provincial government has increased the number of taxis allowed on the road. Earlier this year, the province introduced a streamlined application process that closed on Oct. 19.
The Passenger Transportation Board has been accepting submissions on the applications and that deadline is on Tuesday. The process allows for a maximum of 500 more taxi cabs.
LISTEN: Premier John Horgan told reporters on Tuesday that ride-sharing legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks
So far, there have been 381 cabs approved and more could come. The bulk of those cars are in the Lower Mainland. The vehicles may not all be operating by the time the holiday season hits full stride.
Additional taxis that are already approved (click here for the full list):
New Westminster: 9
North Vancouver: 29