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Surrey only hold-out as Metro Vancouver mayors streamline ride-hailing licensing

Last Updated Dec 12, 2019 at 3:59 pm PST

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, file photo, a driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Summary

The Mayors' Council voted in favour of a regional licence for ride-hailing operators, with one notable exception

A regional licence would allow ride-hailing operators to move between different cities without getting a licence in each

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum cast the lone vote opposing the measure, saying it will harm the taxi industry

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum cast the lone vote in opposition to a motion making it easier for ride-hailing providers like Lyft and Uber to operate in Metro Vancouver.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation voted Thursday to let ride-hailing operators pick up and drop off customers across the region, without forcing each municipality to approve a separate licence.

McCallum voted against the motion, saying it will harm the taxi industry.

 

“We tried every year to get more taxis into our city and provincial governments of different stripes continued to say no. Ride-hailing, they can put as many cars in their streets as we want. That’s not a level playing field,” says McCallum, describing his vote as an effort to stand up for taxi drivers. “I’m speaking on behalf of them, in protecting their jobs and protecting their families and their revenues.”

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, who chairs the council, admits McCallum’s defiance is troubling.

“As the mayor of the second-largest city in the region, I think that does cause a bit of a challenge to the process,” he says. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue our conversations and have them become a part of this process, but it definitely is a bit of a concern and I think it will be a concern for the provincial government, as well.”

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley voted in favour of the motion, but he also has concerns about the system being fair to traditional cab companies.

“To ensure that there’s a level playing field for whoever enters the industry in any way.”

One of only two public speakers to address the mayors before the vote is Benjamin Corbett — a young man from North Vancouver who says he hopes the introduction of ride-hailing helps the region meet climate change targets.

“I probably won’t count on using it to often, but it’s helpful to know that it’s there –especially for a lot of residents who might worry about missing the last bus or don’t have another way to get around.”

Corbett adds he’s also worried about traffic congestion getting worse if no limits are placed on how many ride-hailing drivers are allowed to operate in BC.

“Because it’s important that we get this right.  As we go into the new transportation system of the 21st century, thinking about all the new players that are coming to the game, we want to make sure that it’s beneficial to the overall regional transportation and climate goals.”

The goal is to have interim licensing in place across Metro Vancouver by January 31st with a permanent framework completed by the end of 2020.

More than a dozen ride-hailing applications have yet to be approved by BC’s Passenger Transportation Board.