Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum reiterated his stance against ride-hailing in this city on the eve of Uber announcing Wednesday it will apply for a licence to operate in the Lower Mainland.
Lyft is also planning to do business in Metro Vancouver.
McCallum stated in a press released issued by city hall Tuesday that he has written a letter to Premier John Horgan expressing his concerns “and will continue to advocate for the taxi industry.”
Horgan earlier this year set this fall as the target for ride-hailing to be in service in B.C.
Surrey’s mayor said his statement came “in the wake of the Passenger Transportation Board announcement of further ride-hailing regulations in B.C. last week,” and his position “has remained consistent for years: I do not support ride-hailing.”
McCallum said new regulations would permit ride-hailing companies to pick up passengers across boundaries while taxi companies “must abide by limits.
“This would create an unlevel playing field,” he said. “I am also not in favour of allowing unlimited fleet size for ride-hailing companies. This lack of regulation will negatively impact the environment and increase congestion. It will also negatively impact the existing taxi industry, who has loyally served Metro Vancouver’s residents for decades.”
Provincial Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena told the Now-Leader in January that McCallum’s opposition to ride-hailing in something he’ll “have to work through.
“What happens in various jurisdictions,” she said, “I think is something the mayor is going to have to work through, but we’re looking at a provincial model.”
Meantime, Surrey Councillor Linda Annis issued her own press release in response to McCallum’s criticisms, in which she asks who is speaking up for passengers.
“We are one of the last places on the planet to get Uber and Lyft,” she stated, “yet thousands of people in Surrey already have ride-hailing apps on their phones because they use them when they are outside of B.C. in other parts of Canada, the U.S.A., or around the world.
“At the same time,” Annis added, “I believe taxis should not be restricted to driving or picking up passengers in certain geographic areas. These sorts of antiquated restrictions defeat the whole purpose of providing an alternative to to using your car and have frustrated the riding public for years.
“Frankly,” she said, “the best thing governments can do in this industry is get out of the way, rather than regulating things well past the point of common sense. Just ask anyone who’s been stranded waiting for a taxi or who has been refused a cab late at night.”
Annis said common sense dictates B.C. “should have had ride hailing years ago, just like the rest of the world.
“Uber and Lyft have been successful around the world because they know what riders and customers want and they deliver. But, here at home we seem to put the customer last when they should really come first and they should be the ones driving this industry and how it grows and performs.”
Annis said she will use ride hailing and thinks forcing Uber and Lyft drivers to have a class four licence “just adds one more unnecessary hurdle.”
The B.C. Liberals echo this, warning that “there may be fewer drivers thanks to unnecessary licence requirements,” namely class 4 drivers licences.
“John Horgan and the NDP flip-flopped on their promise and have betrayed British Columbians by crafting a convoluted framework that picks winners and losers in the marketplace, leaving us with reduced service in Metro Vancouver and no service anywhere else,” said Jordan Sturdy, the Liberals’ transportation critic. “This is not what people were promised or expecting. The BC Liberals offered a plan that ensured a level playing field for ride-hailing and the taxi industry and would have meant both could thrive, with customers getting better service and more options. Instead, British Columbians are stuck with a plan that will lead to less of both.”
The provincial passenger transportation board expects it will take six to eight weeks to evaluate the applications. Uber’s application is for the region covering Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish and Lillooet.
Michael van Hemmen, in charge of Uber for western Canada, said Uber is “very excited” at the prospect of providing ridesharing here. “For years, British Columbians have been clear that they want access to the same safe, affordable, reliable service they’ve used all over the world,” he said. “We’re optimistic that Uber will be here for the busy holiday season.”