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Surrey councillors slam move to issue warnings to ride-hailing drivers

Last Updated Jan 27, 2020 at 7:47 pm PDT


Two city councillors are slamming the city's move to ask bylaw officers to issue ride-hailing drivers warnings

Linda Annis says she doesn't want companies or drivers to steer clear of her city

Jack Hundial echoes Annis' concerns, adds this appears to be just another roadblock the city 'doesn't need'

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – This is wrong and a waste of city resources: that’s the message from two Surrey city councillors after bylaw officers requested Uber rides through the app, then issued drivers warning tickets.

Councillor Linda Annis says she has “very, very significant concerns” about the reports.

“Using their time as paid staff members in Surrey to call ride-hailing companies and get drivers to come to Surrey only to issue them a warning,” she said. “Clearly this is not a good utilization of city resources.”

On Sunday, an Uber driver told NEWS 1130 he received a request through the app to pick someone up at the Safeway on King George Highway after having dropped someone off in the area. When he arrived, he said a woman waved him over and asked if he was from Uber. When he confirmed he was, he said two uniformed city officials showed up and handed him a slip of paper with a possible fine of $500 on it.

Annis doesn’t want companies or drivers to steer clear of her city, and says Surrey needs ride-hailing.

“We’re short on transportation, we don’t have enough buses, we don’t have enough taxis. Ride-hailing services are a very welcomed addition to Surrey,” she explained. “Surrey has more than 550,000 people — most of the people in Surrey want ride-hailing service. We all would welcome them and I do hope that they hear that message from us loud and clear.”

When she heard about bylaw officers reportedly baiting drivers, Annis says she was shocked. When she checked in with staff about the reports, she says she was told three officers had been directed to do so.

“In my mind this is clearly wrong and should not be happening,” she added, saying bylaw officers have more important tasks to conduct.

Councillor Jack Hundial echoes Annis’ concerns, and says he’s spoken to a driver who was handed a warning.

“As far as I know, only warnings have been issued so far,” he told NEWS 1130.

Currently, the City of Surrey doesn’t have a licensing system in place for ride-hailing. Uber and Lyft are currently only licensed by the City of Vancouver.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to build out the first modern city of the 21st century here, and one of our core values in the city is innovation and looking forward to technologies to help propel our community forward,” Hundial said of Surrey. “And transportation and ride-share certainly is one of them.”

He adds this appears to be just another roadblock the city “doesn’t need.”

On whether he’s afraid what’s happening could have a chilling effect on drivers and companies, Hundial worries it could, but notes it’s not reflective of what the people want.

“It’s really not what our overall population has been asking,” he said. “My colleagues have received over 1,600 emails and communications from residents in Surrey that we want to have these options available for us. Even from a public safety perspective, it makes sense to have it. We don’t want to have impaired drivers on the road.”

Mayor Doug McCallum maintains it wasn’t legal for Uber to operate in Surrey without a business license. However, he says warnings will move to $500 fines if the ride-hailing companies continue to operate in the city.

“I support ride-hailing, but it has to be on a level playing field with the taxi-industry.

-With files from Lisa Steacy and Tarnjit Parmar