About 60 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents want to see ride-hailing services in British Columbia “as soon as possible,” according to a poll released on Monday.
The poll, conducted by Environics on behalf of Ridesharing Now B.C., found there is a rush to see services like Uber and Lyft available on B.C.’s roads.
“These results absolutely mirror what I hear every day from business owners, employees, friends and associates,” said Ridesharing Now spokesperson Ian Tostenson.
“They want an authentic version of ridesharing that permits flexibility, affordability, part-time employment opportunities, safer streets and the ability to use this platform for both business growth and attracting and retaining employees.”
The provincial government passed legislation in the fall that opens the door to ride-hailing services by the fall of 2019. But concerns remain that the new rules will not create a marketplace accessible for the same big ride-hailing services that operate in other jurisdictions.
The provincial government says it is confident it has met the right balance in the new legislation by both modernizing the existing taxi industry and allowing for new entrants into the market.
However, one of the reasons why ride-hailing services cannot operate immediately in the province is because of ICBC. The public insurer is now developing the insurance package needed to facilitate ride-hailing services.
“ICBC is dealing with what has been described as a dumpster fire. Its priorities have been to fix the problems it has been facing,” B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in November.
In the poll, eight in 10 respondents said finding a ride through Uber or Lyft is a “top” or “important” priority. A majority of those polled were also concerned the provincial government is poised to create rules that protect the taxi industry and make it challenging for the traditional companies.
Although the legislation has been passed, an all-party legislative committee is still meeting to provide recommendations to the province’s Passenger Transportation Board.
The board will be responsible for putting together regulations around whether ride-hailing services can operate in multiple jurisdictions and whether they can charge less than the current basement price. The board will also be able to choose how many vehicles are allowed on the road.
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Three-quarters of those polled were worried that putting a cap on who can operate will limit service “when people need it the most,” according to the poll.
The all-party committee is set to meet on Jan. 30-31, while Trevena is scheduled to speak to the Surrey Board of Trade on Monday.
A total of 600 Lower Mainland residents completed the online survey. The survey was weighted by region, age and gender to match census data.