Last year at this time, the taxi industry was calling foul on the plethora of illegal riding hailing services chauffeuring people around and taking a good chunk of its business.
Now that at least one of those ride-hailing services is licenced to operate in Richmond, its drivers are calling foul on those working for app companies that haven’t been licenced.
“I know a few people who are currently working for those illegal services. They are making money by driving customers around the city despite heavy government penalties. But what’s even more absurd is that some also applied for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB),” said Richmondite Adam Liu, who is a driver with a local licensed ride-hailing service.
“That creates piles of unfairness for legal drivers who have been working their asses off to pay taxes and serve the local community at the same time,” added Liu.
Ironically, Liu’s company only obtained a licence to offer ride hailing in Richmond last year. For years prior to that, like the companies he’s complaining about, recruited and hired drivers to use its app despite not having approval from B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Branch.
Regardless, Liu is calling on the provincial government and related departments to crack down on the multiple Chinese ride-hailing apps that are still thriving in Richmond.
“A driver working illegally can easily make hundreds of dollars daily, even during the COVID-19 crisis while most businesses are suffering,” said Liu, adding that these operators have been dodging taxes from the government.
Jay Zhang, another local driver, said he spent a thousand dollars obtaining a Class 4 driver’s license and did a criminal record check before signing up to become a driver. However, businesses that produce riding hailing apps that have not been approved for use in a municipality don’t require applicants to submit these documents, and that puts passengers’ safety at greater risk, he added.
“I understand that most drivers working for illegal platforms don’t have enough language ability to get a Class 4 driver’s license. But this situation creates a safety concern for customers,” said Zhang.
Liu noted that those working for illegal services are primarily international students and immigrants with limited English language skills.
“No one wants to work illegally. Some drivers operating without licenses told me they have no other options but to survive. But these companies seem to take advantage of both their government and employees.”
If a driver is caught, they will be charged not the company they are working.
“After seeing many new drivers flooding into the grey market, I think the provincial government must take bold action to end it,” said Liu.