Bowman tells MPI, utilities board to 'find a road to yes' for Uber and Lyft

Mayor Brian Bowman is urging Manitoba Public Insurance and the Public Utilities Board to find a way to allow companies such as Lyft and Uber to operate in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg mayor wants insurance provider, regulator to be flexible when it comes to vehicle-for-hire companies

Winnipeg's mayor says Manitoba Public Insurance and the Public Utilities Board should find a way to allow vehicle-for-hire companies to operate in the city. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Mayor Brian Bowman is urging Manitoba's insurance provider and regulator to find a way to allow companies such as Lyft and Uber to operate in Winnipeg.

Vehicle-for-hire companies are eligible to operate in Winnipeg on March 1, but both Uber and Lyft have expressed reluctance to do so unless Manitoba Public Insurance abandons its plans to require every driver working for the ride-hailing companies to purchase add-on insurance.

Uber made a formal submission to the Public Utilities Board, while Lyft issued a statement expressing a similar concern.

Bowman, who pledged to bring Uber to Winnipeg during his state of the city speech in 2017, called on both MPI and the PUB to find a way to appease Lyft and Uber.

"The mayor is hopeful the provincial insurance and regulatory bodies are able to adapt and find innovative solutions to follow the regulatory changes made at the city level to make ride-sharing possible, as other cities across Canada have been able to do," Bowman press secretary Jeremy Davis said in a statement on Thursday.

"Mayor Bowman is calling on provincial insurance and regulatory bodies to find the road to 'yes' so Winnipeggers can finally have choice in the marketplace."

In a supplementary submission to the PUB, Uber said Manitoba Public Insurance's proposed coverage would contradict the provisions of Winnipeg's vehicle-for-hire bylaw.

City of Winnipeg spokesperson Lisa Fraser said this is not the case.

A representative for the taxi companies Unicity and Duffy's, meanwhile, called Uber's submissions arrogant.

"Throughout the world, Uber has operated without proper insurance in many jurisdictions and they've consistently ignored laws and regulations," Scott McFadyen said at Unicity's downtown office on Thursday.

McFadyen promised improvements to taxi services on March 1, but refused to say what they will be.

"We have some new and improved ideas coming out come March 1, and we look forward to a new day," he said. "Just watch us."