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Questioning the Minister of Transportation on Ridesharing — Why the delay?

Following the introduction of my Private Member’s bill today in the legislature, I was up in Question Period. I took the opportunity to ask the Minister of Transportation why we can’t work simultaneously to regulate ride-sharing while updating legislation that pertains to the taxi industry.

Below I reproduce the video and text of our exchange.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: The righteous indignation emanating from members opposite on this file is truly something to behold. Two years ago the member for Kamloops–South Thompson, the then Minister of Transportation, said that this former government was going to bring in ride-sharing, but he got soundly smacked down by somebody, and we don’t have it.

Twice before, I brought in a bill. On Monday… on Monday

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head has the floor.

A. Weaver: On Monday the government provided British Columbians with a road map for how introduction of ride-sharing will happen in our province.

One could be forgiven for finding the announcement somewhat underwhelming. Gone was the end-of-year timeline — or any firm timeline at all, for that matter. Instead, we’re now going to embark on a review of the taxi industry, without engaging ride-share companies and without considering the impact that they might have. In essence, we’ll waste time and money to establish a new status quo.

To the Minister of Transportation: why are we making an effort to update legislation for the taxi industry without even engaging ride-sharing companies and considering the changes they may force on this industry?


Answer


Hon. C. Trevena: We are engaging with the ride-share companies.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: Well, I actually had not heard an answer to that question previously, so I would disagree with the minister.

Obviously, the minister has said historically, and I agree, that a legislation needs to be updated on an ongoing basis. The minister has told local media: “We’ve got six pieces of legislation that we have to potentially modernize, one going back to 1924. Things are very different in 1924 than they are in 2017.”

The act being referred to here is the Motor Vehicle Act, which was first introduced in 1924. It’s a year known for the introduction of the classic Chrysler model B-70, a lovely automobile of its day, and the Oakland 6-54A, another amazing vehicle of its day.

Interjections.

A. Weaver: I’m going to go on eBay to see if I can buy one, and I’ll give it as a gift to the member for Powell River–Sunshine Coast.

The impression that was left by this comment is misleading. The Motor Vehicle Act was actually substantively updated in 1996 by the NDP government and has been amended numerous times since then. The same goes for the Commercial Transport Act, first introduced in 1959 — also referred to acts that need to be billed.

To the minister: why can we not work simultaneously to regulate ride-sharing while updating legislation that pertains to the taxi industry?


Answer


Hon. C. Trevena: The member is quite right. It is a complex issue, and this is why we want to take some time to look at it. This is why we have engaged an expert. This is why we are talking to ride-share companies. This is why we’re looking at these six pieces of legislation the member cited, some of which have been updated, but some of which will need to be changed substantially if we are introducing a whole new mode of ride-hailing to the province, which we are intending to do.

We are also dealing, obviously, with our public insurer, which we’re very proud…. The opposition, clearly, has not got the same sense of reverence and concern about the public insurance company, by the way it’s been left. So we have that still.

We also have the Passenger Transportation Board, which makes B.C. a unique place for introducing ride-share to the norm.

It is not a simple approach. We are approaching this so that we have — as Dr. Hara actually said, in an interview — a win-win-win situation; so that we can have something that will ensure that those people who want to use ride-hailing on an app, or however they are using ride-hailing, can do that; so that the taxi industry, where there are people who have been working for many years, can continue working and we have the knowledge of passenger safety and driver safety all covered. That’s why it’s complex, and that’s why we’re taking this approach.

2 Comments

  1. Lyle Wagner-Reply
    October 25, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    What Travis is neglecting to mention is that the current taxi system has been shown to be inferior by the introduction of ridesharing apps and services. Those who had used ridesharing in other cities do not want to be told they cannot have this at home. Try getting a taxi late at night or in rush hour or when its raining. Its basically impossible. Also, taxis are just too expensive most of the time.

  2. Travis Merriman-Reply
    October 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    It is important to NOT separate Ridesharing from Taxi. They are one in the same. The same rules must apply to both Business Models. Mr. Weaver, you keep calling something “Ridesharing”. There is no “Ridesharing” There are international taxi companies trying to access the BC market, however, we have two Acts of Law which were created in such a fashion, and with such foresight, as to make the business models which are being referred to as “Ridesharing” illegal in our jurisdiction. The reason is because the International Taxi companies which are operating under the pseudonym “Ridesharing” offer few assurances to clientele. The taxi industry is required to offer the correct level of assurances in terms of safe vehicles by way of regular mandatory inspection, safe drivers by way of mandatory criminal record checks, and fully adequate insurance policies as stipulated in our Acts of Law. By calling themselves “Ridesharing” the International Taxi Companies are attempting to circumnavigate what British Columbians traditionally call ‘adequate assurances’ for the motor carrier industry. Why should British Columbians lower our standards? Why should we expect less assurances? So that we can export a few more local jobs to Silicon Valley billionaires?

    Don’t forget, if you do these foreign firms a favour, they will thank you by price gouging whenever they can. That is a very important part of the business model. That is why it is lucrative for the drivers. Bar rush pays double!

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