Advertisement

B.C. court turfs taxi companies’ bid to quash Uber, Lyft licences

Click to play video 'Vancouver Taxi Association files new lawsuit against Passenger Transportation Board' Vancouver Taxi Association files new lawsuit against Passenger Transportation Board
WATCH: Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum not the only one pushing back against ride-hailing. Taxi companies are taking Uber and Lyft to the Supreme Court. Sarah MacDonald reports – Jan 28, 2020

The B.C. Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge against Uber and Lyft filed by a consortium of taxi companies last January.

The group, which included nine Lower Mainland taxi operators, filed an application for judicial review of the ridesharing companies’ licences, arguing that the failure to restrict the companies’ fleet sizes was unfair.

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

Uber and Lyft began operating in parts of the Lower Mainland last January, and Uber applied to expand to Victoria and Kelowna in September.

In a decision posted Thursday, Justice Sandra Wilkinson found that the taxi companies had failed to prove the Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) had made a “patently unreasonable” decision in granting the licences.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Ride-hailing companies look at expansion as demand increases in Metro Vancouver' Ride-hailing companies look at expansion as demand increases in Metro Vancouver
Ride-hailing companies look at expansion as demand increases in Metro Vancouver – Jun 25, 2020

The taxi companies argued that the board had failed to prove there was a public need for unlimited ridesharing fleet sizes, and that it hadn’t considered whether those fleets would “promote sound economic conditions in the passenger transportation business” in B.C., Wilkinson wrote.

Read more: Uber, Lyft launch in Vancouver

Wilkinson rejected those arguments, ruling that the board had specifically said it was monitoring fleet sizes and had left itself the power to put restrictions on those fleets if needed.

“The board’s reasons for not imposing a term and condition restricting fleet sizes in the special authorization licenses are set out in the decisions and are clear and rational,” she wrote.

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
Metro Vancouver taxi industry fight ridesharing at B.C. Supreme Court – Feb 6, 2020

Those decisions, she added, dedicated “numerous paragraphs” to the matter of how fleet sizes might impact economic conditions.

Story continues below advertisement

“The board specifically considered the issue of fleet size and referenced a lack of evidence before it that would support a cap on fleet size, but left open the possibility of future review,” ruled Wilkinson.

Read more: Uber seeks approval to expand into Victoria, Kelowna

“This is not a deferral of a decision or a failure to consider the issue of fleet size. I would go so far as to say that the board made a very common sense decision in the circumstances.”

The ruling awards costs in the case to Uber and Lyft.

“We are encouraged by the B.C. Supreme Court’s decision and look forward to continuing to provide drivers and riders access to the Lyft platform in Metro Vancouver,” Lyft said in a statement.

“Navigating the pandemic has made it clear that Lyft helps connect individuals with essential services and we’re committed to continuing to provide that service.”

Global News has requested comment from the Vancouver Taxi Association and Uber.