Ride-share moves a step closer to re­al­ity

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHUR WHITE-CRUMMEY [email protected]­media.com

City hall has opted to go easy on ride-share com­pa­nies with a pro­posed li­cens­ing sys­tem that in­cludes nei­ther ve­hi­cle caps, nor manda­tory cam­eras, nor min­i­mum fares.

The rec­om­men­da­tions will come to coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day. For the most part, City of Regina ad­min­is­tra­tion found SGI’S ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tory frame­work suf­fi­cient to en­sure pas­sen­ger safety.

Uber Canada sup­ports the pro­posal and is “ex­cited about the po­ten­tial to bring ride-shar­ing to Regina,” but lo­cal taxi com­pany man­agers called the reg­u­la­tions “mi­nor” and warned of safety risks.

In its re­port, ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­vided no es­ti­mate for when ride-shar­ing could come to Regina. But it noted that three com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing Uber and Lyft — have ex­pressed in­ter­est in op­er­at­ing in the city.

Ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee could choose to strengthen the reg­u­la­tions, leave them as is or ban ride-shar­ing al­to­gether. What­ever it de­cides will then go to a full meet­ing of coun­cil on Jan. 28, with a by­law sched­uled to come back at the end of Fe­bru­ary. Only then could ride-shar­ing be­come a re­al­ity in Regina.

The re­port pro­poses a li­cens­ing sys­tem for ride-shar­ing com­pa­nies as a whole, but not for in­di­vid­ual driv­ers. Fees could vary from $2,500 to $25,000, depend­ing on the num­ber of cars. The model would re­quire pre-book­ing, cash­less pay­ments and GPS track­ing — prac­tices al­ready com­mon in the ride-shar­ing in­dus­try.

The pro­posed reg­u­la­tions ap­pear more lax than those adopted by Saska­toon last month. While Saska­toon city coun­cil im­posed a min­i­mum fare of $3.75, the sys­tem pitched for Regina would in­clude no min­i­mum fare.

“The Ad­min­is­tra­tion has not rec­om­mended a min­i­mum as we see no ben­e­fit to cus­tomers,” said the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­port.

On Dec. 6, SGI passed reg­u­la­tions for ride-shar­ing com­pa­nies across Saskatchewan, open­ing the door for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to al­low the ser­vices in their com­mu­ni­ties. Driv­ers would need to hold a stan­dard li­cense and have two years of driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Those with dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tions over the past 10 years or too many de­merit points will be barred. Crim­i­nal record checks and ve­hi­cle in­spec­tions must be sub­mit­ted to SGI ev­ery year for each driver and ve­hi­cle.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rec­om­mended model goes fur­ther than the SGI reg­u­la­tions in just a few ar­eas. Driv­ers would have to abide by con­duct re­quire­ments and ve­hi­cle clean­li­ness stan­dards, though ex­actly what that means is not spelled out in de­tail.

There would be no re­quire­ment for cam­eras and no limit on the age of ve­hi­cles.

Ride-shar­ing com­pa­nies would be re­quired to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to cus­tomers as they book a ride, in­clud­ing driver name, to­tal cost and ar­rival time. Some trip data would be shared with the city.

The rec­om­men­da­tions were de­vel­oped fol­low­ing two sur­veys — which showed wide­spread pub­lic sup­port for ride-shar­ing — and con­sul­ta­tions with the taxi in­dus­try.

Sandy Archibald, man­ager of Regina Cabs, said she’s dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult. She warned of “un­in­tended con­se­quences,” sug­gest­ing that the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions could lead to fall­ing stan­dards across the board.

“There are many things that haven’t been ad­dressed,” Archibald said. “When we had meet­ings with the city we were much more hope­ful about how this was go­ing to roll out. It’s re­ally been shaved down to just a few mi­nor reg­u­la­tions.”

In Archibald’s view, SGI made a mis­take by fail­ing to re­quire a class 4 com­mer­cial driver’s li­cence for taxi and ride-share driv­ers. She thinks the city risks re­peat­ing the er­ror.

“It re­quires a med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, which is im­por­tant, and it re­quires a writ­ten and driv­ing test,” she said. “So there’s some ba­sic over­sight as who’s go­ing to be driv­ing the pub­lic.

“That’s an im­por­tant safety is­sue that the city should be con­cerned about,” she said.

Glen Sali, owner and man­ager of Cap­i­tal Cabs, said safety is also his pri­mary con­cern. He said po­lice have ac­cessed cam­eras from his ve­hi­cles on sev­eral oc­ca­sions to aid their in­ves­ti­ga­tions. He doesn’t un­der­stand why ride-shar­ing shouldn’t be sub­ject to the same re­quire­ment.

“I think, in the taxi in­dus­try, that cam­eras have re­ally helped, both for you as a cus­tomer and me as a driver,” he said.

“I think the pub­lic would feel more se­cure if they had cam­eras in ev­ery ve­hi­cle.”

Both Archibald and Sali said they will ad­dress coun­cil­lors when the pro­posal comes up for de­bate. Archibald said the in­dus­try is now “shack­led” by city by­laws, which im­poses reg­u­la­tions she views as bur­den­some. Some of those re­stric­tions wouldn’t ap­ply to ride-shar­ing un­der the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions.

The city’s Taxi By­law cur­rently re­quires in-ve­hi­cle cam­eras and lim­its the num­ber of taxi li­censes for Regina to 120, plus sea­sonal li­censes.

“You can’t have a level play­ing field if there’s an un­lim­ited amount of ride-share and a lim­ited amount of taxis,” Archibald said.

Lyft was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment, but Uber Canada said it was pleased with the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions. The com­pany’s pub­lic pol­icy man­ager, Jean-christophe de Le Rue, said the city is fol­low­ing the province’s lead on “strict crim­i­nal back­ground checks, driver his­tory checks and ve­hi­cle in­spec­tions.”

“Uber is ex­cited about the po­ten­tial to bring ride-shar­ing to Regina,” wrote de Le Rue. “Staff’s re­port to in­tro­duce ride-shar­ing builds upon the good work com­pleted by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and best prac­tice across Canada.”

“Hav­ing more op­tions, like rideshar­ing, can help re­duce im­paired driv­ing. We agree with the vast ma­jor­ity of Regina res­i­dents who want rideshar­ing to be part of the so­lu­tion.”

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