awyers representing Metro Vancouver taxi companies were in court Tuesday, seeking an injunction to stop Uber and Lyft from operating in the area.
The group, which includes nine companies, filed the challenges late last month.
The cab companies want the court to suspend Uber and Lyft’s apps until the B.C. Supreme Court can hear a judicial review of the Passenger Transportation Board’s (PTB) decision to approve their licenses, citing irreparable harm to their businesses.
That review, which the companies estimate would take four days, wouldn’t happen until late March or early April, according to Vancouver Taxi Association spokesperson Carolyn Bauer.
“What we’re arguing about is that the application process was actually unfair,” said Bauer outside the court.
“So when we received the material, all the material from the Uber and Lyft applications, 75 per cent of it was redacted, so we didn’t have an opportunity to even write up a kind of rebuttal.”
The taxi companies’ court filings argue that the PTB decision will wreak “economic devastation” on them, and for the first time Tuesday, cab companies provided a cash estimate of the competing services’ impact on drivers.
“Right now, the way it’s dropped off in two weeks, I’m afraid of what another two weeks is going to bring,” said Bauer.
Kulwant Sahota, president of Yellow Cab and himself a taxi driver, claimed cabbies were seeing a $100 — or 30 per cent — per-shift drop in revenue.
“You look at New York, San Francisco, they put down the prices so much where you get even the transit passengers, they actually switch over, because it’s actually better for them … the fares are so low.”
Bauer claimed that the taxi industry is not opposed to ridesharing, and reiterated the industry’s argument that they are seeking a level playing field, which would include similar limits on fleet sizes.
She said she believes the judge will side with cabbies.
In court, a lawyer for Uber argued that taxi companies had years to update their business model and make it more competitive.
“British Columbia’s ridesharing legislation and regulations were developed after years of consultation by provincial governments. The Passenger Transportation Board spent 142 days reviewing our TNS application. The process has been robust,” said Uber spokesperson Michael van Hemmen in a statement.
“There is overwhelming support for Uber in Metro Vancouver, and we intend to be available in communities for a long time. Uber and the taxi industry coexist across Canada.”
Lyft says it does not comment on active litigation.
Uber is due back in court Wednesday on a separate case involving a dispute with the City of Surrey.
The company is seeking an injunction against the city to stop Surrey bylaw officers from issuing fines to Uber drivers who are operating in the city without a business licence.
Surrey has so far refused to grant any such licences to the company.