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Judge refuses to block Uber, Lyft from operating in Lower Mainland

Click to play video 'Metro Vancouver taxi industry fight ridesharing at B.C. Supreme Court' Metro Vancouver taxi industry fight ridesharing at B.C. Supreme Court
Nine Metro Vancouver cab companies have filed an application for an injunction to stop Uber and Lyft from operating in the region. Jill Bennett has an update on the B.C. Supreme Court announcement Thursday. – Feb 6, 2020

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has rejected an attempt by the taxi industry to put the brakes on Uber and Lyft in the Lower Mainland.

A consortium of taxi companies led by the Vancouver Taxi Association (VTA) had sought an emergency injunction against the services.

That would have applied while the companies prepare more comprehensive challenge of the Passenger Transportation Board’s (PTB) approval of the companies’ licences, a process expected to take several months.

Click to play video 'Vancouver Taxi Association appealing ridesharing in court' Vancouver Taxi Association appealing ridesharing in court
Vancouver Taxi Association appealing ridesharing in court – Feb 4, 2020

“In my view, the evidence taken at its best and assuming a causal connection that was not established, indicates there is a potential for an incremental decrease in revenue earned by taxi drivers. By contrast, if the stay is granted, it is certain that Uber and Lyft will be unable to generate any revenue at all,” stated Madame Justice Veronica Jackson in her ruling.

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The petitioners acknowledge that granting the stay will inconvenience the public, but argue that inconvenience is outweighed by the alleged harm.

READ MORE: Vancouver taxi companies seek court injunction, say drivers losing $100 per day to Uber, Lyft

“In my view, this supports the conclusion that the public interest favours maintaining the status quo.”

Vancouver Taxi Association spokesperson Carolyn Bauer said the taxi companies would still proceed with their application for a judicial review of Uber and Lyft’s permits.

“There’s a lot of families and children who rely and are dependent on this taxi industry, not just in Vancouver but in British Columbia,” said Bauer.

Click to play video 'Vancouver Taxi Association files new lawsuit against Passenger Transportation Board' Vancouver Taxi Association files new lawsuit against Passenger Transportation Board
Vancouver Taxi Association files new lawsuit against Passenger Transportation Board – Jan 28, 2020

“We’re not just standing here and saying no to Uber and no to Lyft, we’re not saying that, we’re saying bring it on fairly, bring it on equal for us so we stand a chance.”

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The taxi companies argue that the PTB decision did not account for the “economic devastation” it would wreak on the taxi industry.

The companies further argue there is not a level playing field between the two services, with ridesharing companies allowed to operate in larger areas, with unlimited fleet sizes and for lower fares.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland taxi companies file lawsuit seeking to overturn B.C. ride-hailing licences

Michael van Hemmen, head of Western Canada for Uber, said taxis and rideshare companies use different business models and should be regulated differently, but they can coexist.

“It was a serious action that was being taken,” said van Hemmen of the injunction application.

“But at the same time we were confident in the PTB’s decision to allow Uber to operate across Metro Vancouver. We know the public wanted it, the board took 140-plus days to review the application, and we’re confident that Uber will be allowed to continue to operate.”

Uber will be back in court Friday when it learns whether its own injunction application seeking to block the City of Surrey from fining drivers will be successful.

-With files from Jill Bennett

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