Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has sent a letter to the independent Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) about “widespread concerns related to the introduction of ride-hailing services.”
Trevena wrote she is concerned about no limits on ridesharing fleet sizes and the potential impact on Metro Vancouver traffic.
“This letter is intended to show support for the consideration of these concerns and should not be taken as a general policy directive,” Trevena writes.
“I appreciate that in making the policy decisions, you stated that while there are no limits on fleet size at this point, the board will monitor TNS (Transportation Network Services) performance data and may review fleet sizes when data is available.”
Last month the PTB put in regulations leading to ridesharing companies making the decision to operate in British Columbia. The regulations include no cap on the number of ridesharing vehicles operating in the province, large regional boundaries including all of Greater Vancouver in one and huge pricing flexibility.
Trevena also writes in the letter to PTB board chair Catharine Read that the province has heard from Metro Vancouver mayors worried about too many ridesharing vehicles on the road.
“The issue of congestion is a concern our government shares, as we work to improve transportation for people in our province and reduce GHGs (greenhouse gases),” Trevena writes.
“I trust that the impact of increased congestion will be monitored closely by the Board and will factor heavily into future decisions around fleet size limits.”
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The PTB will require ridesharing companies operating in B.C. to provide data that will be the basis for future decisions. Lyft, Uber, TappCar and Kater have all made it known that they plan to apply to operate in the province. TappCar and Kater are the only companies expressing interest, so far, in operating outside of Greater Vancouver.
In an interview, Trevena insists the province is not overstepping its role in sending a letter to the independent body tasked with determining the regulations.
“The letter is very much the conveying of information to the Passenger Transportation Board… It is not directional,” Trevena said.
“I think it’s important for an independent body to look at things rather than government big-footing around it.”
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The letter comes days after Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs met with Vancouver Taxi Association president Carolyn Bauer and B.C. Taxi Association president Mohan Kang. The taxi association has raised concerns over the caps and does not believe there is a level playing field between the new ridesharing industry and the existing taxi industry.
“This letter is an intimidation letter in my mind,” B.C. Liberal MLA Jas Johal said.
“The moment you stifle the number of drivers in any way you basically render ride-hailing irrelevant. The service is impacted severely. Nowhere in the letter does it mention doing what is right for the consumer.”