The B.C Green Party has introduced legislation to “start a conversation” about bringing ride-hailing companies like Uber to British Columbia.
The bill, introduced by Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, would require ride-hailing drivers to get a background check and vehicle inspection before operating on B.C. roads.
“I have put very specific language in there based on best practices from across various jurisdictions,” said Weaver. “In B.C., it seems we are very good at finding ways we can’t be innovate rather than find ways we can be innovative.”
Vancouver is the largest jurisdiction in North America that does not allow Uber, the largest ride-hailing company, to operate. The province has launched a consultation process to work with industry leaders on what impacts ride-hailing would have in B.C.
Uber cannot operate in the province right now because of a number of issues associated with the Passenger Transportation Board. Those issues include background checks and access to passengers with disabilities.
The provincial government has also expressed concern about hurting existing taxi drivers who have invested money in their vehicles and licences.
“I have been in conversation for literally weeks. I have been meeting with taxi companies, drivers, business groups,” said Peter Fassbender, the minister overseeing ride-hailing regulations.
“The conversation has already started and we are committed to that. We want to respect the existing industry and we are going to have a made-in-B.C. solution.”
Tech firms supporting legislation
The Green Party legislation would require drivers to be 19 years of age or older, would prohibit vehicles from being hailed curbside and would mandate fares for disabled passengers with mobility devices be the same as any other passenger.
The legislation has garnered the support of 22 CEOs of local tech firms or start ups.
“When Uber was here, it was frankly a better place to get around, it was a safer place to get around. It was a ride-sharing choice I could put my children in and feel good about it,” said Jason Bailey, the CEO of Eastside Games.
The Green Party has also argued that ride-hailing services would help the province meet climate change goals. The goal of allowing ride-hailing would be to get cars off the road and have current drivers count on ride-hailing services instead.