Local taxi and shuttle companies have mixed feelings about the new ride-hailing legislation introduced by the province on Monday.
The legislation will allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in B.C. by the fall of 2019.
Kevin East, owner of Ambassador Transporation Corp., says he is looking forward to ride-sharing becoming available in the province, but says it has taken too long.
“I’m all for it,” said East. “My opinion is we need that service … the need for this product in the province has been long overdue.”
He says the demand in the Valley won’t be as high as in larger centres like Vancouver, allowing existing transportation companies and ride-sharing companies to co-exist.
“There’s room for ride-share and taxis and shuttles in these centres such as the Comox Valley,” said East. “I believe it would be very collaborative and enhance the quality of our business … with three taxis in town now, I think it would just enhance it, just make it better for everybody.”
East adds that Ambassador Transportation offers shuttles and buses, something that Uber and Lyft do not.
Joe Briere, owner of Joe’s Taxi, says he is glad ride-sharing drivers will also have to obtain a class-four driver’s licence and a criminal record check, but he is just waiting to hear what insurance option will be available to them.
“I have to carry $10 million liability insurance for each of my vehicles, so my customers and myself are covered every which way if anything happens,” said Briere. “Uber should be on the same playing field when it comes to that.”
According to Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, ICBC will have a new insurance option available for ride-hailing services next fall.
Briere currently has two cars in his fleet and is hoping to expand. He said there is a need for ride-sharing services on busy nights when the current companies can’t keep up with the demand, but overall, he is concerned about the impact ride-hailing will have on his business.
“I’m a smaller company, so it might hurt me a lot when it comes here to the Valley,” said Briere, adding that there is no way he could lower his prices to be competitive against ride-hailing companies.
Briere is currently waiting to hear if the Passenger Transportation Board will issue Uber and Lyft licences to taxi companies.