By: Luke Jones, Published on October 27, 2017 10:09 AM, Last Update on October 27, 2017 07:10 AM
The Saskatchewan Taxi Cab Association (STCA) wants the provincial government to “conduct real consultation” before embracing transportation network companies (TNC), like ride-sharing giant Uber.
During the Speech from the Throne on Wednesday, the government laid out plans that would create legislation to allow Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) to offer auto insurance to TNCs. Premier Brad Wall said the government will actively urge municipalities to explore ride-sharing avenues in an effort to reduce impaired driving numbers.
“I do think we just need more options for Saskatchewan people,” Wall told the Canadian Press. “Obviously, almost every major North America city is comfortable with respect to the safety that’s provided by the various ridesharing platforms.”
Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, argues that the introduction of ride-booking services will allow users to lower the amount of impaired driving incidents in Saskatchewan. He says this is especially the case in rural areas, where taxi services are not readily available.
“I think it’s an interesting concept. We’d sure like to look at it.”
STCA spokesperson Shondra Boire released a statement on Wednesday that points out the government and regulators must hold TNCs to the same standards as the traditional taxi industry:
“Allowing TNCs to operate under a different set of rules devalues long-standing and necessary local bylaws that have been established to ensure public service and safety and has led to very negative outcomes in other jurisdictions,” Boire argued.
STCA says there is already a “made-in-Saskatchewan” solution for the problem: “flex-service taxis – a hybrid solution that can safely provide more taxis in virtually every Saskatchewan community while still protecting local jobs, investment and tax revenue.” The flex-service model could provide part-time taxis and full phone/web/app dispatch services, “all while maintaining the current public safety and regulatory standards on which our industry has been built,” the statement said.
Taxi groups have fought Uber’s expansion around Canada, pushing for the company and others like it to be regulated in the same manner as taxi operatives. Local and provincial government regulations have often sought to find a middle ground to appease taxi groups and allow TNCs to operate.
The delicate balance has never been fully achieved and taxi representatives in all Uber-occupied provinces are angered by the expansion of the company.