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'Transportation-starved' Surrey needs Uber: Board of Trade

Last Updated Jan 25, 2020 at 1:48 pm PST

FILE - The Uber App is pictured on a smartphone in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, December 30, 2019. British Columbia's Passenger Transportation Board has granted long-awaited licensing approvals to ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft for service in the Lower Mainland and Whistler. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Surrey is stuck in past when it comes to transportation, says the head of the city's board of trade

Premier Horgan says the legislation is "clear" and the City of Surrey, can't block Uber from operating there

And Uber isn't backing down, despite threats from Surrey's bylaw office to prevent operations in the city

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Ride-hailing is here to stay, according to the head of Surrey’s Board of Trade, even as the city doubles down on promises to swipe Uber out of its future.

So far, Premier John Horgan, the head of Surrey’s Board of Trade and Uber, says they’ve all told Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum he has no say over ride-sharing coming to his city.

“We absolutely need it for economic development to make sure that Surrey has a vibrant night culture and so people can have a safe ride home,” says Anita Huberman, adding next steps include rallying businesses and others to send a message to councilors.

“To ensure that the City of Surrey knows that there is a strong desire for ride sharing to exist in Surrey despite comments to the contrary.”

Premier Horgan says the legislation is “clear” and the City of Surrey, can’t block Uber from operating there.

McCallum says he won’t change his mind until he sees a “level playing field” for taxi drivers, which would mean at least doing away with municipal taxi boundaries.

Huberman says the board is also lobbying the province for updates to taxi licensing as ride-sharing is only part of the solution for the “transportation-starved” region, which also needs more public transit and taxi service.

“We need different ways to get around. In Surrey you can fit the cities of Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby in our geography and we absolutely need it; for economic development, to make sure that Surrey has a vibrant night culture; so people can have a sfae ride home,” she says.

“We’ll send a letter and have some commentary discussion … to ensure the taxi industry also has a levelled playing field so that they can cross boundaries throught Metro Vancouver.”

Saturday morning, Uber told NEWS 1130 they “respectfully declined” to cease operations in Surrey after receiving a letter from the city’s bylaw office to stop.’

“The Passenger Transportation Board and the provincial government have given Uber all necessary licences authorizing Uber to continue operating across Metro Vancouver and in the City of Surrey,” the release read. “We look forward to working with all Councils on a path forward for the regional licencing of this new industry.”

Huberman says that advocacy work will continue, and she’s looking forward to Monday’s council meeting, where the conversation about Uber is planned to be raised.