The committee tasked to look into ridesharing regulations in B.C. has recommended that drivers should hold a Class 5 licence.
But the B.C government has already rejected the idea, opting for a commercial Class 4 licence, which are mandatory for all taxi drivers.
To get a Class 4 licence drivers must pay additional fees and get tested. All taxi drivers in British Columbia are currently required to have a Class 4 licence
“My belief is that some people believe there is an arbitrary level of safety that is somehow got by a Class 4 licence,” Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux said.
“I am not sold on that myself. The reality is that parents send their children in cars with other parents on field trips and they don’t worry about the fact that the driver doesn’t have a Class 4 licence.”
Ridesharing drivers in Alberta are now required to have the more expensive and comprehensive Class 4 licence.
Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and most U.S. jurisdictions require a Class 5, which is the minimum every driver in B.C. must have.
“The public has to be my number one concern and that is why I want to stay with a Class 4 licence,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said.
“The committee heard from the Vancouver Police Department and they were very clear that Class 4 should be required. If people are earning money by driving people from point A to point B they should be prepared to make that investment.”
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The Class 4 licence costs extra and requires testing for drivers. There are concerns that there are not enough staff to conduct testing to match potential demand for the licence.
“ICBC will ensure resources will be in place, including hiring new examiners to accommodate increases in demand,” Trevena said.
The provincial government has committed to having ridesharing in place by the end of 2019 and will start accepting applications in the fall. The B.C. Liberals are now warning that they don’t believe ridesharing will be place until the spring of next year at the earliest.
Companies like Uber and Lyft have expressed concerns over Class 4 licences, but Uber is supportive of most of the recommendations in the report.
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“If the government adopts today’s key recommendations, riders and drivers will be one step closer to seeing Vancouver join cities like Toronto, Calgary, and Seattle with true ridesharing services,” Uber Western Canada business manager Michael van Hemmen said.
“Now is the time to finalize ridesharing regulations and have ICBC make a ridesharing insurance product. British Columbians have waited for years to enjoy the same ridesharing services available in other cities – and we believe today’s recommendations can make that possible this year.”
The committee put forward a total of 11 recommendations, which include no geographical boundaries for pick-up and drop-off, no caps on ridesharing fleet sizes and ensuring the cost of a trip is not less than the cost of public transit.
The government has not agreed to any of the recommendations yet, but Trevena has opened the door to regulations that would allow greater flexibility.
“I will be working in the coming weeks and months to promote flexibility around key issues of supply, boundaries and pricing to prepare for the introduction of ride hailing this fall,” Trevana said.