Legislation to allow ride-hailing services to operate legally in B.C. will be passed by the end of November, Premier John Horgan says, but don’t expect to order up an Uber or Lyft driver any time soon.
Horgan was asked Tuesday about the long-awaited innovation that major cities around North America already have, and he promised to get legislation passed one way or another.
“It will be in next week, and we’ll be passing it before the house rises, and then we’ll go into the significant changes to our insurance packages for those who want to drive,” Horgan said.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena has been asked repeatedly about the service, which the NDP election platform promised to deliver by the end of 2017. After hiring a consultant and clearing the way for up to 500 more taxi licences across the province, Trevena said B.C. should be in a position to take applications from new services by the end of 2019, but creating new insurance “might take a bit longer.”
Horgan didn’t promise anything sooner than that, and restated his government’s concern for protecting the taxi industry.
“There are going to be criminal record checks [for ride-hailing drivers],” Horgan said. “We want to make sure the playing field is level for those who are already in the sector and those new entrants.
“There’s a lot of work to do but we’re confident the legislation will set the table for that into the new year.”
Online booking of bus service has begun to emerge in B.C. as Greyhound ended its inter-city services across Western Canada on Nov. 1. Silver City Stagelines, a long-time contractor for Greyhound, has proposed using a 12-passenger Mercedes Sprinter van from Nelson to Kelowna and back, with stops for those booked online at Castlegar, Trail, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek.
Lyft, a pioneer of ride hailing based in San Francisco, has focused on extending its service outside major cities, signing up drivers to make occasional trips between communities.