Flanked by taxi drivers and managers

Ride-sharing company spooks taxi firms

Transportation Minister Todd Stone wants all drivers licenced, NDP's John Horgan calling for fines up to $20,000 aimed at Uber

The potential Halloween arrival of a smartphone-based ride service has established taxi companies spooked, and B.C. politicians warning about the consequences for passenger safety and the viability of local businesses.

Ride sharing businesses such as Uber are welcome in B.C. as long as they follow the same rules as taxi and limousine companies, including a chauffeur driver’s licence, inspection and taxi licensing required by provincial law, Transportation Minister Todd Stone says.

Stone said Uber tried to operate in B.C. in 2012 but didn’t acquire licenses and was shut down by a cease-and-desist order from the ministry’s Passenger Transportation Branch, which regulates taxis. He called a news conference after reports that Uber was restarting operations in Vancouver, where customers frequently complain they can’t get a taxi on busy weekend nights.

Stone said anyone caught regularly providing rides for money without a taxi licence faces a fine up to $1,000. If they are in an accident, their passengers are covered by third-party liability insurance, but ICBC warns that the driver or vehicle owner takes the insurance risk.

A driver in an accident while working for Uber would likely be found in breach of ICBC insurance terms, and could be required to repay claims made against the driver as well as for the driver’s own injuries and vehicle damage, said ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman.

NDP leader John Horgan called his own news conference at the legislature, flanked by representatives of Victoria cab companies. Horgan is introducing a private members’ bill next week that calls for fines to be raised as high as $20,000.

Sean Convy, general manager of Victoria Taxi, said there are multiple cases of personal injury lawsuits against Uber, which takes revenues from taxi companies but whose drivers don’t meet the same regulations.

“We pay on average $12-15,000 per vehicle a year to be safe on the roads,” Convy said. “That’s an assurance that the passengers jumping into our vehicles can give to themselves when they ride with us.”

Uber invites private vehicle owners to sign up and takes a 20 per cent share of fares they collect. Customers download a smartphone app that identifies where and when they want a ride and pay the fare through the Uber network.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

UPDATE: body of missing man located

Jerret Snow was last seen May 19

Schools preparing for optional part-time classes for students

Parents will have the choice whether or not to return their children to class

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

Most Read