Saskatchewan

Regina holds off on approving ride-hailing rules, amidst taxi industry concerns

Regina's executive committee has hit the pause button on ride-hailing services, sending the regulations back to city administration to study.

Mayor Michael Fougere said more information needed before final decision can be made

Regina's executive committee is asking the city for more information before approving legislation to allow ride-hailing services, like Lyft or Uber, to operate in the city. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

The words "level playing field" came up more than once at Regina's executive committee meeting, as people in the taxi industry argued against approving proposed ride-hailing regulations, arguing services like Uber and Lyft should be regulated like taxis. 

One taxi operator said without these regulations, it would be like pitting the Regina Pats against the Calgary Flames. 

In response in part to those concerns, Regina's executive committee has hit the pause button, sending the regulations back to city administration to study. 

The proposed legislation would have seen no cameras in ride-hailing vehicles and no minimum fares. As well, there would be no caps on how many vehicles could operate under the framework.

The city wants more information, including imposing minimum fares, whether taxi drivers and ride-hailing drivers should have more stringent licensing requirements, accessibility and recording rules. 

At the request of Councillor Andrew Stevens, a possible supplemental report was asked for on whether ride-hailing services may refuse rides and the potential for discrimination.

One plate owner, Tom Molema, echoed the voice of others in the taxi industry, saying he was not opposed to ride-hailing. 

"What I'd like is [for] them to operate under the same rules as a taxi," he said. "If you have to have a camera in a taxi to give people a ride, you should have to have a camera in a ride-share."

Two distinct models, says Lyft rep

While taxi drivers argued the two services offering rides for money were essentially the same, Lyft spokesperson Matt Patton argued they are distinct.

"Our goal is to complement the existing service, not replace it," he told the executive committee.  

He said Lyft drivers are not professional drivers, but go through rigorous screening and background checks, while their vehicles also undergo inspection.

Cameras in vehicles aren't needed, because drivers' identities are known and their movements are transparent with the technology used.

Mayor Michael Fougere said ride-hailing is a parallel system to taxis, but not the same. 

"Disruptive technology is never easy when it comes to providing services to the public," he said, adding residents want ride-hailing, and the city should provide it. 

While Fougere supports ride-hailing, he said Lyft and city administration would be providing more information on the issue by the end of the month to help council make an informed decision. 

With files from Janani Whitfield

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