Nova Scotia

Uber wants to come to Halifax — but should it be treated like a taxi company?

Representatives from Uber have been meeting with Halifax municipal staff to discuss possible regulations that would allow the ride-hailing service to operate in the municipality.

Halifax quietly talking to ride-hailing service as councillors disagree over treating it like taxis

Uber is one ride-hailing services that uses an app to help connect people with drivers. (Julia Page/CBC)

Halifax Regional Municipality staff have been quietly meeting with representatives of Uber to discuss what regulations could be put in place to let the ride-hailing services to operate in Halifax, says Deputy Mayor Tony Mancini.

The latest meeting took place last week. 

Halifax municipal council has ordered staff to examine the taxi industry as a whole, including talking with ride-hailing services.   

"The discussion was around regulations," Mancini told CBC Nova Scotia News

"We need some basic regulation because when we look at cities across North America where that type of service is offered and there are no regulations, there are problems."   

Mancini wants rules that will require things like background checks for drivers and outline what kind of insurance ride-hailing services will need.

He doesn't believe ride-hailing services need the same strict regulations as the taxi industry. He said that would prevent the services from setting up in Halifax.  

Earlier this year, Coun. Matt Whitman said he would like to take a closer look at ride-hailing services coming to Halifax.

Tony Mancini is Halifax's deputy mayor. (CBC)

Mancini said it's time for the taxi industry to change and he believes increased competition from ride-hailing will help. 

"I was at the festival this weekend, the jazz festival, and people kept coming up to me and talking about taxis and they say, 'When are we going to get Uber? When are we going to get Lyft in here?'" said Mancini. 

"There is a problem with our taxi industry. I represent Dartmouth and I constantly hear about not being able to get a cab in Dartmouth, or get back to Dartmouth." 

'Let's do it right'

Mancini expects staff to deliver a report on ride-hailing services by November and council will then debate regulations.

He believes the big debate in council will surround whether the ride-hailing regulations should mirror those set up for the taxi industry or take a new approach. 

Mancini hopes the municipality will decide this year. 

"I know people are frustrated and they want it to happen right away, but let's do it right; we're on the right track," said Mancini.  

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said Coun. Matt Whitman would like to see ride-hailing services regulated like taxis. In fact, Whitman would like to see ride-hailing services enabled in the Halifax region. The version has been updated.
    Jul 16, 2019 1:14 PM AT

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said Lyft has met with Halifax municipal staff. In fact, there had been no direct communications between municipal representatives and Lyft at the time of this story's publication. This story has been corrected and updated.
    Oct 24, 2019 4:14 PM AT

With files from Amy Smith

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