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Uber will operate in BC by end of 2017: transportation minister

09 March 2017

British Columbia's Liberal government will allow ride-hailing services such as Uber to operate in the province by the end of this year, while introducing initiatives that it says will help the taxi industry remain competitive.

The government will dedicate $1 million to the provincial taxicab industry to help it develop an app to compete with Uber.

"We are very excited to finally be in a position to look British Columbians in the eyes and say ride-sharing is coming to our province", Stone said.

"We want a fair system that will welcome new companies into the marketplace but also will ensure through provincial regulation, the industry will continue to be regulated in a way that is fair and equitable for all of the people who participate in it", Fassbender said.

A Vancouver city councillor has predicted that the B.C. government will take away municipalities' legal authority over the activation of taxi licences.

ICBC will invest up to $3.5-million in the taxi sector to install crash avoidance technology in all B.C. taxis.

It will also give taxis exclusive rights to street hailing and work with municipal governments to reduce red tape and address the current shortages of taxis and vehicles for hire.

Taxis will also be allowed to operate anywhere, as government removes the municipal borders on the industry.

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Fassbender said other cities have welcomed taxi alternatives too quickly and ended up facing unexpected consequences. "And, in order to do that, the concept of a level playing field - as level as we can possibly create - is really important".

Following Tuesday's announcement, Uber issued a statement calling the move a step forward and urging all political parties to commit to bringing ride-hailing into the province this year.

Taxis are now under the overlapping jurisdiction of both the province and the municipalities of Metro Vancouver, Meggs explained.

Uber has been controversial in other provinces, including Quebec, where a class-action lawsuit filed by taxi companies and drivers against the company was certified in January.

Those include having an unrestricted driver's licence and passing criminal record, safe-driving and vehicle safety checks.

Stone says taxi companies have shown support for allowing these services, as long as a level playing field is provided.

Representatives of the US-founded company met the committee to respond to a petition by the Kenya Taxi Cab Association, and submissions by some drivers, that they are being oppressed. "So many areas of Florida have benefitted from the opportunities that ridesharing represents, for both passengers and drivers".

Uber will operate in BC by end of 2017: transportation minister