Lyft, a major ridesharing company, is reminding the B.C. government not to impose caps on vehicles when the service is expected to hit the road in the province later this year.
Taxi companies are crying foul over the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB)’s decision to have no caps for ridesharing vehicles allowed on B.C. roads, sending political and legal shockwaves through an industry yet to see the light of day within the province.
On Wednesday, the Vancouver Taxi Association filed a judicial review of the decision in B.C. Supreme Court, calling the decision “unfair.”
The association further argued that the decision will disadvantage the taxi industry, which operates under both caps and municipal boundaries.
Wednesday also saw Transport Minister Claire Trevena send a letter to the independent PTB raising concerns about the impact that a lack of caps could have on ridesharing.
On Thursday, Lyft said it is pleased that the PTB has ruled not to include caps or municipal boundaries in its regulations, which it and Uber have argued would prevent them from operating successfully in the province.
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“Artificially capping service would cause wait times and prices for passengers to increase, and reduce earning opportunities for drivers,” the company said in a statement to Global News.
“It is clear that the current restrictions imposed on taxis, including caps and municipal boundaries, limit service when people need it the most.”
Last month the PTB put in regulations leading to ridesharing companies making the decision to operate in B.C. Those regulations include creating large regional boundaries, including all of Greater Vancouver in one and huge pricing flexibility.
Both Lyft and Uber submitted their applications to operate in Metro Vancouver on Tuesday, the first day applications could be accepted.
In her letter, Trevena said she’s heard concerns from Metro Vancouver mayors about the impact that a lack of caps would have on traffic in their cities.
But she noted that the letter was not meant as a policy directive.
“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.”
Trevena later said she ultimately supports the decisions that the PTB came up with.
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The BC Liberals have accused Trevena and the NDP of trying to “intimidate” the PTB.
Speaking Thursday, B.C. Premier John Horgan said the PTB’s independence is not in question.
“There’s nothing in Minister Trevena’s correspondence to the board that’s inconsistent with the direction that we gave at the outset,” he said.
“But we also want to make sure that the family businesses that have been regulated, heavily regulated, for decades, don’t find themselves on the sidewalk with nothing to do.”
Ian Tostenson with Ridesharing Now BC said the taxi industry is simply trying to protect itself.
“What they have to understand is that no one wants the taxi industry to disappear,” he said. “What we’d like to see the taxi industry do is become more competitive.”
Both Tostenson and Trevena said they’re confident ridesharing will debut in B.C. this fall, as originally promised.
—With files from Richard Zussman and Ted Chernecki