When ridesharing finally hits the road in B.C., some Coquitlam residents may spot a familiar face behind the wheel: one of their city councillors.
Teri Towner is in the process of getting her Class 4 licence in order to register as a driver but says she’s already got some concerns.
Towner is no stranger to ferrying her constituents around. She’s been volunteering with Operation Red Nose — the holiday service that helps get tipsy revellers home safely — for a decade.
The city councillor says Coquitlam needs more transportation options.
“I see it firsthand. People are leaving their festivities for the evening, and there are not enough taxis to get them home,” she told Global News Radio CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show.
“And occasionally, people make the wrong choice, and they choose to drive their vehicle home and they really shouldn’t.“
She said people heading home to Coquitlam via SkyTrain also find themselves unable to find cabs from the station to their homes for the so-called “last mile.”
In order to drive a rideshare vehicle, British Columbians will need to hold a commercial Class 4 licence, a requirement the province says is necessary for safety.
But midway through studying for her exam, Towner isn’t so sure.
“Right now, I’m on the chapter about heavy vehicle braking and turning radius of semi trailers and how to connect trailers and airbrake pre-trip inspections,” she said.
“I’ve been successfully driving my own vehicle for decades. I have a clean driving record. I don’t see the relevance in studying all of this.“
Towner said she intends to push through and get the licence anyway.
But she said she believes the process will discourage people who are interested in signing up as casual rideshare drivers who only activate the app from time to time.
She said she’s also concerned that possible requirements for drivers to get special permits for specific municipalities, as in the case of Vancouver, could result in people like her sticking to their home cities.
“If every city put in all these licences and fees, what that would mean, someone like me will only buy the licence and the fee for Coquitlam,” she said.
Uber, Lyft and half a dozen other companies have applied to operate in the Metro Vancouver region.
It’s not clear when the first approvals will come through for rideshare companies to actually operate.