British Columbia

'I'm very confident': Transportation minister still promising ride-hailing by Christmas

The province says it's still confident people living in B.C. will be able to use ride-hailing to get home from their Christmas parties this year.

Operating licence process delayed after pushback from taxi industry

The province still expects to be able to deliver on its promise to have ride-hailing on B.C. roads for the Christmas season. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

B.C.'s minister of transportation says she's still confident people living in the province will be able to use ride-hailing to get home from their Christmas parties this year.

Speaking from inside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Claire Trevena, said the Passenger Transportation Board is working through 21 operating licence applications.

She said municipalities are working on the rules around business licences right now.

"We are anticipating regional business licences.  We've seen what Port Coquitlam and those communities are looking at," she said. "Vancouver has signified it's got a municipal business licence, but is also working on a regional business licence."

The province's timeline for a ride-hailing rollout was stalled by a three-week extension to the application process to allow for additional feedback from those affected, such as Vancouver's taxi drivers.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which oversees ride-hailing in B.C. sent a letter to applicants Oct. 30, which cited a recent judicial review launched by the Vancouver Taxi Association and the B.C. Taxi Association. 

'Haste is not the answer'

Premier John Horgan says the approval process to bring ride-hailing services to B.C. is well underway but it has taken longer than anticipated.

"We're driving to get this done and I think people would prefer that we do it in the right way, protecting the rights of individuals, the rights of existing companies and making sure we protect the travelling public," he said. 

While the goal is to have ride-hailing in place by the holidays, Horgan said it shouldn't be seen as a government failure if it is not available by then.  

"I think using terms like 'failure' because you don't meet a date are irresponsible," he said.

"Haste is not the answer here, getting it right is the answer."

Trevena, meanwhile, still thinks Christmas is an achievable goal.

"This is something we're dealing with individual municipalities on [as to] what they want to go forward with. But I think ride-hailing companies are anticipating very eagerly that they will be here for the Christmas season," said Trevena.

With files from The Canadian Press

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