SURREY (NEWS 1130) — The controversy over ride-hailing in the city of Surrey went unaddressed in council chambers Monday but one councillor plans to confront the issue at the next meeting.
Coun. Linda Annis says she hopes Surrey residents will be able to book an Uber or Lyft in the city soon after her motion comes to council on Feb. 10.
“The whole purpose of my notice of motion was to get the city to deal with ride-hailing sooner as opposed to later. The residents of Surrey have been waiting for ride-hailing for quite some time now. Quite honestly, I’m embarrassed by the fact that Vancouver is ready to go and Surrey is not,” she says.
Councillor @LindaAnnisBC brought forward a motion for next meeting to have city staff look at rolling our business licenses for ridehailing services – also asking to take a look at having Uber/lyft work together with taxi industry @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/fQ5o7uG5jq
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) January 28, 2020
Uber and Lyft were approved to operate on the Lower Mainland Thursday and the city of Vancouver approved business licenses the same day. Drivers hit the road Friday morning.
Annis says she will be asking city staff to move forward with work on regional licensing — allowing ride-hailing operators to operate across Metro Vancouver — which is the approach approved by all Metro Vancouver mayors except Surrey’s. She will also be asking for staff to look at how it can be made easier for Surrey taxi drivers to cross municipal boundaries.
“We should have ride-sharing in Surrey now. We shouldn’t be delaying it. People have been waiting for it and asking for it for a long period of time. I’m not hearing any negativity about it. We just need to get on with it and make it happen now.”
Mayor Doug McCallum has been steadfast in his opposition to ride-hailing, saying operators have an unfair advantage over taxi drivers. Over the weekend, city bylaw officers issued warnings to drivers picking up in the city. In a news conference Monday he reiterated his promise to start issuing $500 fines to Uber drivers in the city and to continue to fine the company $500 per day.
“The mayor has to take a sober second thought. We were elected by the residents of Surrey. The residents of Surrey are asking for ride-hailing. We need to not represent special interest groups we need to move on with it and let the market dictate what sorts of services the residents will use,” Annis says.
“This is a provincial decision around ride-hailing. the mayor can protest as he wishes but in the end of the day Surrey must comply with the provincial legislation and allow ride-hailing in Surrey.”
A statement released by B.C.’s Minister of Transportation Monday says municipalities can set requirements for business licences for ride-hailing companies, but can’t stop their operations.
“Provincial law is clear, no municipality has the authority to block the operation of ride-hailing services,” it reads. “The absence of a bylaw or business licence in specific municipalities related to ride-hailing is not grounds for refusal of the service.”
Annis says when she travels to other cities she uses ride-hailing, and argues people need more options.
“Transportation in Surrey is very difficult. We don’t have enough taxis, we don’t have enough buses. Quite frankly, we need to have all options available to us and I think ride-hailing is an absolutely perfect one to ensure that our residents remain safe.”
With files from Martin MacMahon