The government of British Columbia has announced this week its improvements for the taxi industry, with a view to adopting ride-sharing companies like Uber. The provinces anticipates “ride-sharing services coming to British Columbia by the holiday season at the end of 2017.”
Among the changes will be auto insurance reforms that will help taxi drivers save up to 25% on their premiums.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released a statement introducing the improvement, hoping to modernize the taxi industry in B.C.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone and Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister Responsible for TransLink, announced the improvements. Among the proposed improvements “that will help ensure a level playing field in B.C.”:
- Insurance products – The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has been collaborating with the taxi industry to streamline the claims process and “is committed to working with the industry to improve their insurance to make it more flexible and cost effective, which could save taxi drivers significantly.” Depending on the number of kilometres they drive, these savings could be in the range of 25%;
- New app-based technology – The province will invest up to $1 million to help the taxi industry develop an app with the capability of shared dispatch to allow the taxi sector province-wide to better compete with new entrants to the market. This will also allow the public to hail and pay for a taxi with a smartphone in the same way that they would for a ridesharing service;
- Crash prevention technology – ICBC will invest up to $3.5 million in the taxi sector to install crash avoidance technology in all B.C. taxis. This technology will improve passenger safety and help avoid crashes. (An ICBC pilot showed that this technology led to a 61% reduction in at-fault, rear-end crashes and a 24% reduction in all crashes);
- Reduced red tape – The province will work with municipal governments and the taxi industry to remove red tape and overlap within the system to save drivers money;
- Exclusive rights to street hailing for taxis – Taxis will retain exclusive rights to be hired by phone, at a taxi stand or flagged down at the curb;
- Pick-up/drop-off anytime, anywhere – Ridesharing companies typically operate across municipal boundaries. To ensure a level playing field for the taxi industry, the province will work with municipalities and other stakeholders to allow all drivers, including taxis, the same access to provide services wherever and whenever a passenger needs a ride; and
- Open up taxi supply – B.C. will work with municipalities to address the current shortage of taxis and vehicles for hire, which will provide more choice, accessibility and opportunity for both consumers and drivers.
The following regulations will be implemented for taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers. The province also says Class 4 licenses will be phased out, a unique decision in Canada.
- All drivers have an unrestricted driver’s licence (no graduated licences) and are at least 19 years of age;
- All drivers have passed a criminal record check for past convictions of violent or sexual offenses as well as other offences;
- All drivers have passed a safe driving record check; and
- Vehicles have passed regular mechanical inspections.
The province will also “make sure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect consumers through fair and transparent pricing,” the statement said.
B.C. has taken much longer than most provinces to get its ride-sharing policies in order. Fassbender has long promised the regulations would offer a unique solution to the ride-share problem. Many Canadian provinces have struggled to create laws that appease both Uber and taxi drivers. B.C. has said it will be able to make both happy.