British Columbia

Uber ridesharing included in proposed Vancouver taxi reforms

A new report by Vancouver city staff is recommending changes to the taxi industry that could one day allow so-called ride-sharing services like Uber to operate in the city.

'The outcome is we are close, we want to move forward,' says Andreea Toma, director of licensing

Uber is not legally allowed to operate in Vancouver. (Reuters)

A new report by Vancouver city staff is recommending changes to the taxi industry that could one day allow so-called rideshare services like Uber to operate in the city.

"I think the outcome is that we are close. We want to move forward. We want to move forward on what the industry could do," said Andrea Toma, chief license inspector for the City of Vancouver. 

Uber, a San Francisco-based company that works through a smart phone app that allows non-regulated drivers to pick up fares in their own personal vehicles already operates in more than 200 cities worldwide.

Uber participated in the consultations leading up to the staff report that includes 21 recommendations for the city's taxi industry.

The report says the rideshare model poses "both opportunities and concerns for regulators."

"On one hand rideshare companies represent a leap forward in taxi supply and service," read the report, which noted that the public has expressed a desire for companies like Uber. 

The report also refers to the improvements other cities have seen that have welcomed Uber. 

"There is evidence that the significant increase in supply has resulted in shorter wait times, lower fares, and higher customer satisfaction."

The report recommends the city continue to "examine the issues and opportunities for rideshare in Metro Vancouver" with key stakeholders.

Concerns remain

But public safety is still a concern for the city, as well as how it would impact the taxi industry. 

"Rideshare raises significant concerns about passenger safety, future taxi industry viability and the availability of accessible service to disabled persons."

Toma says more work and consultation needs to be done because a lot of different stakeholders are involved. 

"There needs to be better alignment between the city and provincial regulators on what we see from ride-share," she said.

"We have been working with the [Transportation] Ministry themselves, that's why we are proposing to council to allow for that continuation of dialogue," she said. 

Council will hear from speakers on Tuesday, then council will either debate and change the recommendations or move them forward as they are. 

"We think within zero to three months is when we are anticipating we can go back to council with some recommendations," said Toma.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Uber is one step closer to operating in Vancouver with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.


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