August 19, 2019 6:10 pm
Updated: August 20, 2019 12:32 pm

Rules for B.C. ride-sharing industry released: No restrictions on fleet sizes or surge pricing

Few boundaries, no limits on fleet size and no caps on price are some of the latest regulations that will take effect when ride-hailing begins in a few short weeks. Richard Zussman has the details.

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Ride-sharing companies in British Columbia will not face restrictions on fleet sizes, will not have a cap price and can operate in much larger regional boundaries than taxi companies can.

The Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) introduced the regulations from Transportation Network Service (TNS) companies on Monday. Although there will be no maximum price, the minimum ride-hailing rate will be the same as the flag rate for a taxi in Metro Vancouver, roughly $3.25-$3.95.

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“We know from other jurisdictions that it takes years for TNSs to ramp up. This will be especially the case with the Class 4 licence requirement,” PTB Chair Catharine Read said.

“As soon as TNSs start operating we will require data from them that has been set out by the board.”

The PTB, which held consultations with industry stakeholders last month, will make future decisions based on the data collected from ride-hailing companies operating on B.C.’s roads.

The provincial government has promised to have ride-hailing vehicles on the road by Christmas. The PTB will start accepting applications for companies to operate in B.C. on September 3.

READ MORE: B.C. government to start taking ride-hailing applications in September, key rules still unknown

Taxi companies are concerned about the regional boundary switch. Right now taxi companies are only allowed to pick up passengers in their own municipality. Ride-hailing companies will be able to operate in much larger regions, including all of Metro Vancouver.

Read says they currently don’t have the data to change the rules for taxi companies.

“They are not OK with it,” Read said. “Especially the taxi companies based out of Surrey and the suburbs of Metro Vancouver. They are not happy with it because they are restricted to their existing boundaries.”

The Vancouver Taxi Association is appealing the decision with the PTB. They have demanded a meeting with Premier John Horgan to discuss the issues about fleet size and boundaries.

“We were absolutely shocked. We were hoping for a level playing field and we got annihilated,” Vancouver Taxi Association president Carolyn Bauer said.

“We knew ride sharing was coming, we went to meeting after meeting trying to make this work. We thought B.C. had the opportunity to do it right and set an example for provinces across Canada. But we were just dropped with it. Congestion is going to be so terrible especially in Vancouver.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, speaking on behalf of the government, says he is also concerned about no caps on fleet size.

“We are concerned about congestion that is one of the reasons we are concerned about no caps on licences,” Farnworth said.

The B.C. Taxi Association says it’s drivers face high ‘deadback’ costs when drivers can’t pick up in other municipalities. They also express concerns over the fleet size restrictions.

“We are not happy especially that there is no fleet size cap on them,” BC Taxi Association President Mohan Kang.

“Whatever is given to them now, the PTB can’t take it back. And we have to compete but we have boundaries in Metro Vancouver. It’s hard to compete.”

WATCH (aired August 12): Lyft applying to operate in Metro Vancouver

The B.C. government has previously unveiled some of the rules for the new industry, including requiring drivers to go through criminal and driver record checks and banning drivers with four or more pointable convictions within two years. Non-accessible ride-hailing vehicles will be charged a new fee of 30 cents per trip to to help fund accessibility programs.

“Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall, with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in July.

“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government. We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise.”

READ MORE: Major ridesharing company Lyft announces plans to operate in Metro Vancouver

Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing company, is expected to apply to operate in British Columbia but has yet to announce a decision. The company will not comment on the regulations until they have more time to look at them.

Lyft, the world’s second largest ride-hailing company, has announced plans to operate in Metro Vancouver. They are still looking at operating in other areas of the province but are concerned about the requirement that drivers must have a commercial Class 4 licence.

Kater, a Vancouver-based company, also plan to applying to operate ride-sharing vehicles.

–More to come

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