EDITORIAL: Ride-hailing in B.C. is long overdue

Pressure from taxi industry, government red tape holding up process

Anybody who has stood on the street late on a cold winter’s night knows too well that frostbite could set in before a taxi arrives.

Across the region, wait times of more than an hour are common when the bars and pubs close on weekends, and waits can be equally as long on some mornings, during weekday commutes.

Parts of Greater Vancouver area – south-of-the-Fraser communities especially – have long been short on fast and reliable transportation service, so it remains frustrating that ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft will not be picking up passengers in B.C. for some time to come.

The BC Liberals failed for years to find a way to have such services operate in the province, which is one of the few places in North America without Uber, Lyft and related companies.

This month, the provincial NDP government announced a plan to introduce the service in the winter of 2019 — two years later than originally promised.

The delay is due to pressure from the taxi industry, which does not want competition in Metro Vancouver.

There is also the matter of all the hurdles Victoria is placing in front of ride-hailing companies’ path to your door.

ICBC has not even started to look at creating a licensing package for the services and won’t until legislation is passed. Yet the Insurance Bureau of Canada said private Canadian insurers in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have developed insurance products that cover the risk for ride-sharing companies and can “quickly bring these products to B.C.”

The government is also requiring ride-hailing drivers to have class 4 licences, the same required of those who drive large commercial vehicles. Why?

Once insurance is in place, hailing an Uber or Lyft is no different than calling a friend for a ride. Why successive provincial governments of different political stripes have effectively blocked the service raised interesting questions.

B.C. resident need – and deserve – more options to get from point A to point B.

– Kamloops This Week

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