British Columbia

Uber's arrival cause for concern, Vancouver councillor says

Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs says the province's decision to allow ride-hailing services like Uber in Metro Vancouver is "very disappointing."

Councillor Geoff Meggs says province is lowering standards to accommodate Uber

The province announced yesterday that ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate in B.C. within a matter of months. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The province's announcement yesterday that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft will be coming to the province within the year has one Vancouver councillor "very disappointed."

Councillor Geoff Meggs says while he knew ride-hailing would eventually come to Metro Vancouver and acknowledged there were issues with B.C. residents and visitors obtaining timely cab service in some areas, he said the province has moved without proper consideration.

"I think what we're doing here is lowering our standards to make it possible — in the case of Uber — for a foreign corporation to have a piece of the market," he told CBC's The Early Edition.

"What I'm worried about here is we're going to see reduction in the insurance standards and reduction in oversight of the drivers."

Meggs was also critical of the province's decision to give cabs and ride-hailing drivers equal access to cross municipal boundaries.

"In an open boundary situation, everyone will go to the Granville Entertainment district or a cruise ship or you'll face surge pricing," he said.

Jurisdictional concerns

The province announced yesterday that taxis and ride-hailing companies will be held to the same safety standards, but Meggs expressed concerns with exactly who was going to regulate the mixed taxi, ride-hailing network under the current model.

Taxis are currently under the overlapping jurisdiction of both the province and the municipalities of Metro Vancouver, Meggs explained.

While other municipalities like Edmonton have introduced special conditions on ride-hailing drivers like license restrictions, insurance requirements and police checks, Meggs said it will be difficult to coordinate and organize here.

"We've got 22 municipalities. What's Anmore going to do? Even Burnaby — there are cab companies specific to Burnaby — is it going to start regulating?" he said.

"I think a regional solution is going to be necessary," Meggs said, adding he thought the province might take over jurisdiction completely.

Taxi industry sidelined

The Vancouver Taxi Association has already said it will look into every possible means to fight the initiative, and Meggs said he was sympathetic to its cause.

"I don't see why this is considered illegitimate," he said. "[The taxi drivers] have worked hard. They've done what they had to do. They've got their entire life wrapped up in this license, and they don't want to be crushed by the arrival of this foreign corporation that's going to take all the money out of the system."

Minister of Transportation Todd Stone said the government hopes to introduce the ride-hailing services in December.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs reacts to provincial Uber announcement