VANCOUVER — The Green party in British Columbia is planning to keep up the pressure to bring ride sharing to the province by reintroducing legislation to enable the services.
The former Liberal government had backed ride-hailing services such as Uber to operate in the province by the end of this year, while introducing initiatives to help the taxi industry remain competitive.
Green Leader Andrew Weaver says all three parties support the services, but the province’s minority NDP government has not put a timeline on bringing ride sharing to the province.
Before they were defeated, the Liberals promised $1 million to help the taxi industry create an app that would allow the public to order and pay for cabs the same way they would with a ride-hailing service.
They would also have given taxis exclusive rights to street hailing and wanted to work with municipal governments to reduce red tape and address shortages of taxis and vehicles for hire.
The Vancouver Taxi Association opposed the plan.
But Weaver said Monday there is an economic imperative to allowing ride-sharing companies to operate in the province.
“The government cannot stick its head in the sand when it comes to new technology,” he said in a news release.
“All parties want to see B.C. be a leader in the emerging economy. To do so, government must take a proactive, responsive approach that considers the wide-ranging impacts of technological innovation. Vancouver is the largest city in North America without ride sharing. It is time we finally made this service accessible to British Columbians.”
Geoff Meggs, Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, expressed his disappointment with the Liberal party’s plan in March when he was a member of Vancouver’s city council.
At the time, Horgan promised a deeper consultation with the taxi industry to ensure local businesses are protected.
The Greens have agreed to support the NDP in the legislature, and Weaver invited the other parties to work with him before he brings in legislation.
“In this new minority government, we have an opportunity to work together to advance good public policy,” he said.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said there’s an urgent need to overhaul B.C.’s regulations to open the way for ride sharing that meets consumers’ needs while creating a level playing field for all service providers.
“I’m looking forward to working with Green party Leader Andrew Weaver and a full range of stakeholders as we develop a made-in-B.C. plan that protects jobs that currently exist while ensuring British Columbians have access to the modern ride-sharing services they expect,” Trevena said in a statement.