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Published: Thu, March 09, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

BC ready to 'dangle' Uber, other ride-sharing services ahead of election

BC ready to 'dangle' Uber, other ride-sharing services ahead of election

So says Anthony Perl, Director of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University, who has studied the impacts of app-based services like Uber and Lyft in large American cities.

After more than a year of consultation on how to regulate ride-hailing without decimating the taxicab industry, Transportation Minister Todd Stone and TransLink Minister Peter Fassbender made the announcement in Vancouver on Tuesday.

At the same time, he said on CTV today the Province is investing $1 million to assist the taxi industry with developing an app to help it compete.

"We want a fair system that will welcome new companies into the marketplace but also will ensure through provincial regulation, the industry will continue to be regulated in a way that is fair and equitable for all of the people who participate in it", Fassbender said.

The Vancouver Taxi Association described the government's plan as a betrayal that will threaten the livelihoods of thousands of drivers.

NDP leader John Horgan said if he's elected, his party will not follow through on the Liberals' plan as presented.

ICBC will spend $3.5 million to equip all taxis with "crash-avoidance" technology at no cost, while streamlining the claims process and making insurance more affordable, Fassbender said.

It will also give taxis exclusive rights to street hailing and work with municipal governments to reduce red tape and address the current shortages of taxis and vehicles for hire.

"The province is prepared, as part of wanting to keep the industry competitive, to provide them with that support", he said.

Taxis will also be allowed to operate anywhere, as government removes the municipal borders on the industry.

Lyft is now available in just over 300 cities and continues to distinguish itself through its positive in-car experience, for both passengers and drivers.

The taxi-hailing application has shaken up the market and is now being accused of killing other companies and oppressing drivers by keeping its fares low. "We want to respect the jobs that are represented in the taxi industry".

"If people wind up switching from public transportation to these ride-share options, then vehicles are added to the traffic flow... without necessarily moving more people", he says.

Uber and Lyft drivers will be required to uphold the same safety standards as taxis, including criminal record checks and safe driving record checks.

In addition, the government made a commitment to sustain the province's taxi ecosystem, outlining several initiatives to create what it calls, "a level playing field".

The Vancouver Taxi Association promised to fight the province's plan any way it can.

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