VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. government has announced that ride-sharing companies will be welcome in the Province by late 2017 while also investing to help keep taxi companies competitive.
The government says they will introduce the following implementations that will help keep the taxi market competitive in B.C.:
- New app-based technology: The Province will invest up to $1 million to help the taxi industry develop an app with the capability of shared dispatch to allow the taxi sector province wide to better compete with new entrants to the market, and allow the public to hail and pay for a taxi with a smartphone in the same way that they would for a ride-sharing service
- Crash prevention technology: ICBC will invest up to $3.5 million in the taxi sector to install crash avoidance technology in all B.C. taxis. This technology will improve passenger safety and help avoid crashes. An ICBC pilot showed that this technology led to a 61% reduction in at-fault, rear-end crashes and a 24% reduction in all crashes
- Insurance products: ICBC has been collaborating with the taxi industry to streamline the claims process, and is committed to working with the industry to improve their insurance to make it more flexible and cost effective, which could save taxi drivers significantly. Depending on the number of kilometres they drive, these savings could be in the range of 25%
- Reduced red tape: The Province will work with municipal governments and the taxi industry to remove red tape and overlap within the system, which will save drivers money
- Exclusive rights to street hailing for taxis: Taxis will retain exclusive rights to be hired by phone, at a taxi stand or flagged down at the curb
- Pick-up/drop-off anytime, anywhere: Ride-sharing companies typically operate across municipal boundaries. To ensure a level playing field for the taxi industry, the Province will work with municipalities and other stakeholders to allow all drivers, including taxis, the same access to provide services wherever and whenever a passenger needs a ride
- Open up taxi supply: The Province will work with municipalities to address the current shortage of taxis and vehicles for hire, which will provide more choice, accessibility and opportunity for both consumers and drivers
The Province will also require the same safety standards for both taxis and ride-sharing companies. As part of the standards, Class 4 licenses will be phased out for taxi drivers, and taxi and ride-sharing companies will be responsible for maintaining records that prove:
- All drivers have an unrestricted driver’s licence (no graduated licences) and are at least 19 years of age
- All drivers have passed a criminal record check for past convictions of violent or sexual offenses as well as other offences
- All drivers have passed a safe driving record check
- Vehicles have passed regular mechanical inspections
The Province says they will also make sure that proper safeguards are in place to protect consumers through fair as well as transparent prices.
Through consultation with stakeholders throughout B.C., including taxi and limousine companies, local governments, business associations, accessibility groups and transportation networking companies, the following feedback was received:
- A fair system that welcomes new companies while ensuring that existing local operators remain competitive and continue to earn a living wage
- A regulated system that protects passengers, drivers and their vehicles
- A modernized system that reduces red tape, unnecessary duplication and provides both consumers and drivers with more choice, opportunity and flexibility
In the summer, the Province will seek more input from taxi drivers, police, airports, ride-sharing companies and municipalities before the plan is finalized.
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, says this is something British Columbians have wanted for some time and now they will make it happen.
“British Columbians have told us that they want ride sharing services, and we’re moving forward to make it happen. While we’re taking action, we know that many people rely on taxis to support themselves and their families. That’s why we’re making investments to modernize the taxi industry and create a level playing field.”