Your Uber is not here: NDP puts ride-hailing decision on hold in B.C.

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Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will not be arriving in British Columbia this year.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced on Monday that the NDP government plans to consult with the taxi industry before creating a “made-in-B.C. solution” to the issue.

“We understand there is a public demand to see this service in place in B.C. sooner rather than later, and we are committed to doing this as quickly as possible,” she said.

The NDP promised during the election campaign in May to introduce ride-hailing services in B.C. this year.

But Trevena acknowledged that consultant Dan Hara will deliver his report on the taxi industry in early 2018.

The government will then gather more information from Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services before releasing a final report in the spring.

It will be next fall before the government introduces potential legislative changes, Trevena said.

B.C. Liberal critic Jordan Sturdy called the announcement a “disappointment” and accused Premier John Horgan of breaking his election pledge.

“We had a promise that the premier made in the spring that we were going to have ride-share in place by the end of this year,” he said. “Clearly, that’s not going to happen.”

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver also expressed unhappiness and vowed to introduce his own legislation Thursday.

“All three parties agreed to bring in ride-sharing in the last election and have now had significant time to consult stakeholders and assess the various ramifications of regulating this industry in British Columbia,” he said in a statement.

Uber said in a statement that it’s trying to clarify whether the Hara review is solely focused on the taxi industry or whether one of its objectives is to allow ride-hailing in B.C., as promised by all three political parties in the last election.

“It is important that every voice be heard including the general public and ride-sharing companies which are not currently on the list of groups to be consulted,” Uber spokesperson Susie Heath said in the statement.

Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association, welcomed Trevena’s decision to consult with his industry before proceeding.

“It’s the right step towards the right direction,” he said.

Kang added that the former Liberal government’s plan to modernize the taxi industry and allow ride-hailing by Christmas of this year weakened safety standards and failed to create a level playing field.

Trevena defended the decision to order further study, despite extensive research on the issue to date and the existence of ride-hailing services in other jurisdictions.

She said the taxi industry derided the former Liberal government’s plan as destructive.

“So I don’t think that would be a very good starting point,” she said. “I think we need to go well beyond that and start to work constructively and that’s what our aim is.”

She said Hara has extensive experience advising governments on transportation issues, including working on Vancouver’s 2015 Vehicle-for-Hire Dialogue.

“We need to understand how it really works in B.C. to get onto the next steps and I don’t think that work has been done,” Trevena said.

Times Colonist