Rideshares stuck in neu­tral

No time­line de­spite vow to al­low Uber

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - NEWS -

An elec­tion prom­ise to bring rideshar­ing to Bri­tish Columbia by the end of the year has taken a de­tour as the NDP gov­ern­ment says safety of pas­sen­gers and operators comes first.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Claire Trevena said Tues­day the gov­ern­ment is study­ing safety and reg­u­la­tory is­sues and she can’t say when rideshar­ing op­er­a­tions like Uber and Lyft will come to the province.

She said the gov­ern­ment isn’t stalling.

“It’s do­ing what we said we were go­ing to do in the (elec­tion) plat­form and when we took over as gov­ern­ment. We’re go­ing to make sure pas­sen­ger safety comes first,” said Trevena.

The New Democrats and Lib­er­als pledged to bring in rideshar­ing this year dur­ing last spring’s elec­tion.

The NDP promised to “work with taxi driv­ers, taxi com­pa­nies and rideshar­ing com­pa­nies to cre­ate a truly fair ap­proach to rideshar­ing in B.C. that doesn’t un­fairly ben­e­fit — or pun­ish — one group over the other.”

But Trevena now wouldn’t put a time­line on the prom­ise.

“We want to make sure what­ever we’re do­ing, we’re do­ing it safely, we’re do­ing it ju­di­ciously,” she said. “We’re talk­ing about peo­ple’s safety here.”

Green Leader An­drew Weaver said B.C. can’t wait much longer, which is why he will in­tro­duce for a third time a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill to pave the way.

He said the bill can spark de­bate this fall about the ser­vice, but nei­ther the Lib­er­als nor the NDP ap­pear re­cep­tive.

Lib­eral jobs critic Jas Jo­hal said the Op­po­si­tion has not been talk­ing with the Greens about rideshar­ing and will have to fully ex­am­ine the pro­posed bill be­fore of­fer­ing any kind of sup­port.

Weaver said tak­ing the slow ap­proach sig­nals B.C. is not will­ing to ex­plore new tech­nolo­gies.

“We will never be viewed as in­no­va­tors if we are not will­ing to em­brace in­no­va­tion,” he said.

Weaver said the NDP may fear a back­lash from the taxi in­dus­try, but rideshar­ing rep­re­sents the fu­ture.

“What we need to do to­gether is bring the leg­is­la­tion that en­ables change to oc­cur in a man­ner that’s fair,” he said. “We don’t need to wait years to do so.”

B.C. Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Mo­han Kang said the mi­nor­ity NDP gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to con­sult on rideshar­ing with stake­hold­ers.

“It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment to en­sure the public­safety is­sue is ad­dressed,” he said.

Uber Canada spokes­woman Susie Heath said in a state­ment the com­pany is mon­i­tor­ing the de­vel­op­ments.

“We en­cour­age all par­ties to fol­low through on their elec­tion com­mit­ments to work to­gether and make rideshar­ing a re­al­ity in 2017,” she said.

We’re talk­ing about peo­ple’s safety here. Claire trevena

Leon neaL/Getty ImaGes

The new Democrats and Lib­er­als pledged to bring in rideshar­ing this year dur­ing last spring’s elec­tion.

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