Ride-sharing app Uber matches passengers to drivers and takes a 20 per cent cut of the fare

Uber petition latest volley against taxi ‘cartel’

Move by ride-sharing app follows lawsuit, threat of government fines if its cars challenge taxi industry in B.C.

Cab-hiring app Uber has countered a pre-emptive lawsuit against it by taxi companies with a petition urging the province and City of Vancouver to welcome its service.

Launched last Thursday, the petition had more than 14,000 names by Monday and follows a vow from Transportation Minister Todd Stone to use undercover agents to fine Uber drivers if they begin operating in contravention of B.C. law.

In the petition preamble, Uber calls the taxi industry in Metro Vancouver a cartel of “a few rich taxi owners” out to preserve their business instead of serving passengers well.

“While consumers are left stranded, the government continues to protect taxi interests under the guise of maintaining ‘industry health,'” it says. “With the lowest number of taxis per capita in North America, Vancouver residents and visitors are woefully underserved when it comes to transportation options.”

Critics from the taxi industry warn Uber would bring unreliable, potentially substandard service using questionable drivers and cars.

Uber argues it’s a technology, not a conventional taxi service, and should not be subject to the same rules.

The U.S. firm invites private vehicle owners to sign up and takes a 20 per cent cut of fares. Customers use a smartphone app to book rides and pay fares without cash changing hands.

SFU City Program director Gordon Price said the taxi industry’s alarm is understandable – taxi licences worth nearly $1 million in the Vancouver area would become nearly worthless if a flood of Uber drivers take over the market.

But he said passengers would enjoy cheaper fares and a service that’s “much better” because of the convenience of the app.

Passengers need not know where they are to book a ride with Uber, which finds their location via GPS and matches them with available drivers.

The taxi industry is meanwhile aiming to launch its own app as early as February to provide similar features on behalf of all companies in the Lower Mainland, B.C. Taxi Association spokesman Mohan Kang said.

Municipalities are so far siding with taxi firms against Uber in part because of the money they collect from cab licence fees, SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith said.

But he said the issue boils down to protection of a long-running monopoly and predicts Uber would not have found such fertile ground here had taxis not been notorious for long waits and reluctance to make some trips.

“Try to catch a cab at 2 a.m. to get back to Surrey,” Meredith said. “Most of the cabs don’t want to do that because of the empty backhaul.”

He noted one facet of Uber’s model is variable pricing, which can mean very high “surge” rates at peak demand times and lower fares at other times.

That aims to attract more drivers when they’re needed and match supply to demand.

“Uber’s pricing system is much closer to a free market pricing structure,” Meredith said. “If they’re able to elbow their way in here they will start driving down the prices and that strikes fear into the hearts of taxi companies.”

Uber operates in more than 220 cities and has been advertising on Facebook for drivers in B.C.

Just Posted

PSA ad campaign targets young women involved with gangs

Crime Stoppers campaign encourages girls to reject being lured into the gangster lifestyle

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

‘We’ve heard you,’ says Surrey mayor before public gets say on draft budget

Mayor says city received 116 letters, majority of letters about ‘postponement’ of Cloverdale ice rinks

Delta man charged in relation to North Delta thefts

Taranjot Singh Grewal, 40, of Delta, is facing five theft-related charges

Row, row, row your car, down a Surrey road

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining outside

Heavy rain, wind cause power outages in White Rock

Chance of showers throughout the evening

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

UPDATE: Highway 1 closed near Revelstoke

A vehicle incident has closed Highway 1 in both directions

Inquest scheduled into death of man in prison for gang-related killing

Gurwinder Mann, 39, died in Abbotsford while serving life sentence

UPDATE: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Flooding shuts down Columbia Station on Expo Line

TransLink says riders will be bused to connecting Expo and Millennium Line stations

UBCO prof pitches passenger rail service in Okanagan

UBC Okanagan engineering prof envisions tram train from Okanagan to Kamloops

Famous giant tortoise DNA may hold fountain of youth: UCBO

After Lonesome George’s death he still provides clues to longer life

Most Read

l -->