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No Uber before end of year, despite NDP election promise

Last Updated Oct 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm PST

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The NDP government is back-tracking on a promise to bring ride-hailing to the province by the end of the year, with the Transportation Minister instead announcing a review.

Claire Trevena says there’ll be no ride-hailing in the province until the expert review is completed. She says Dan Hara, who has over two decades of experience, will consult with and prepare the taxi industry for the introduction of services such as Uber and Lyft. The review isn’t due until early 2018.

Before May’s provincial election, the New Democrats promised to bring ride-hailing services to the province by the end of this year.

Trevena is now suggesting it may not happen before spring.

“We’ve got six pieces of legislation that we have to potentially modernize, one going back to 1924. Things were very different in 1924 than they are in 2017. So I think that it’s a very reasonable approach to look at what we’ve got now before we rush into the next step.”

She admits she hasn’t read the report Hara put together for the City of Vancouver two years ago.

“Because what happens in Vancouver is not the whole province –although Vancouver may think it is sometimes. We’ve got to look at what’s happening in Prince George, in Campbell River, in Quesnel. We’ve got to look at right around the province,’ she says.

Trevena denies the delay in legislation will affect Uber’s plans to be up and running by New Year’s Eve, saying the company could just operate like the taxi industry does.

“If Uber or any other ride-share service wanted to operate at the moment, they could follow the rules that we have in place, which is: go to the Passenger Transportation Board and apply through them to make sure they had the right insurance through ICBC. There is a system in place already if they chose to use that system and operate here.”

Uber Canada’s Susie Heath says they’re “currently seeking clarification” to see how soon they can legally operate in BC and they “remain committed to working with the provincial government” to develop regulations that make sense for everyone involved.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver isn’t happy with the announcement.

“I am very disappointed that the government will not keep its promise to bring ridesharing to British Columbians by the end of this year,” said Weaver.

“On Thursday, for the third time, I will introduce legislation that will enable ridesharing to finally operate in a regulated fashion in BC. I hope both parties will take this opportunity to engage in a substantive debate on the details of this issue so that we can move past rhetoric and vague statements and finally get to work delivering for British Columbians.”

Executives with Uber have repeatedly said they’ll be ready transport customers in and around Vancouver before New Year’s Eve.