Ride hailing is operating in Toronto and other North American cities, but B.C. hasn’t licensed any services yet. (Flickr)

Ride hailing is operating in Toronto and other North American cities, but B.C. hasn’t licensed any services yet. (Flickr)

Transportation

Surrey Board of Trade calls for ‘level playing field’ for taxi industry, ride hailing

SBOT pleased to see B.C. set no municipal boundaries for ride hailing, calls for same in taxi industry

Surrey Board of Trade says it’s pleased with B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Board announcement that there will be no municipal boundaries set for ride-hailing operators in the province, but argues the same rules should apply to the taxi industry.

“The Surrey Board of Trade wants to see a level playing field for the taxi industry as well,” said SBoT CEO Anita Huberman in a release. “That has always been a part of our ride hailing industry position. The B.C. Government should open up municipal boundaries for all taxi companies in Metro Vancouver.”

READ MORE: B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Ride-hailing companies can be licensed for a single-operating zone that includes Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Squamish-Whistler, or other large regions of the province.

Passenger Transportation Board chair Catherine Read acknowledged Monday that taxi companies are opposed to this, because the board continues to restrict their pickup zones to Surrey and other historical operating limits of competing taxi companies.

Other new regulations announced Aug. 19 include:

z No limit on the ride hailing fleet size, however, the Passenger Transportation Board says they may re-evaluate caps in the future.

z Flag rates for ride hailing will be the same as taxi. That means the minimum rate will be same as getting into a cab. There will be no caps on rates which means ride-hailing companies can still use surge pricing. Rideshare companies won’t be able to use coupons or discount codes.

z Large regional boundaries for ride-hailing companies. Metro Vancouver is a region and vehicles can drop off outside of their boundaries but cannot pick up.

Huberman also reiterated the business group’s long-standing position that the B.C.’s planned licensing restrictions are too high. The B.C. government has stated it will require class four commercial driver’s licences for ride hailing, the same licence required to drive a taxi or limousine.

That licensing requirement is a misstep, according to Surrey Board of Trade, which calls for allowing taxi and ride-sharing drivers to instead use the lower Class 5 licence in B.C., similar to Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan but only if “the driver meets strict safe driver screening criteria.”

Huberman said the business group is “disappointed that Class 4 licence requirements continue to be a part of the regulation and said “this needs to be revisited by government to enable full market participation.”

“Surrey, who has been starved of transit and transportation options, needs no restrictions on ride-hailing services and to those that want to participate, to give our business community and residents travel options,” she added.

The province will begin accepting applications on Sept. 3.

-Files from Tom Fletcher