Nova Scotia

'Inevitable' that services like Uber, Lyft coming to Halifax: report

Consultants found overwhelming support for ride-hailing companies in Halifax but regional council isn't ready to give the green light just yet.

City staff recommends new licensing fees, more study before giving ride-hailing services the green light

Ride-hailing service Uber already operates in a number of Canadian cities. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Halifax regional council's transportation committee will debate a staff report Tuesday that recommends taking an in-depth look at so-called ride-hailing services, including Uber and Lyft. 

A citizens survey conducted for the city last fall by Ottawa-based Hara Associates showed 88 per cent of the more than 13,400 people asked said they would use Uber or Lyft if those services were available in Halifax. 

Seventy-three per cent of respondents said they would feel safer using those services, also known as transportation network companies, than taking a traditional cab.

Uber and Lyft allow passengers to connect with drivers through an app and arrange a pick up.

'Complex' issue requires more study

"It is inevitable that ride sourcing will come to the region, as it has to all major destinations in Canada," notes the staff report into vehicle-for-hire licensing under a section entitled "Preparing to regulate Uber or Lyft."

"Staff advise that the considerations involving the municipality's response to allowing ride sourcing in the region are complex enough that a separate report on this item alone is necessary."

Rather than simply giving Uber and companies like it the green light, the report notes the first step would be to license brokers and dispatchers, increase licensing fees and create a reporting system to the municipality. 

The staff report prepared for Halifax regional council says 'Uber is interested in the growing Halifax market.' (Julia Page/CBC)

Hara's review identified several advantages of transportation network companies (TNCs), including:

  • Ease of payment — fees are automatically charged to credit cards.
  • Low prices — TNCs offer significantly lower prices than taxis during off-peak hours.
  • Reliable availability at all hours — always a ride available, if you are willing to pay the price.
  • Driver rating system — allows drivers and passengers to rate one another.

The company also noted some disadvantages, including:

  • Driver training — most Nova Scotia drivers have class 5 licences, taxis and limousines need class 4.
  • Criminal record checks — who does those checks, and to what degree of rigour?
  • Accessible services — few TNCs provide wheelchair accessible vehicles.
  • Insurance — how much commercial insurance should TNCs carry?
  • Impact on existing taxi and limousine services.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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