Rideshares stuck in neutral
No timeline despite vow to allow Uber
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
The new Democrats and Liberals pledged to bring in ridesharing this year during last spring’s election.