VancUber? Future of Vancouver ridesharing uncertain

Though there have been many bumps along the way, Uber may still come to Vancouver. Certainly, Vancouver is not saying no to ridesharing, but since introducing such a service in the city would involve decision makers both within and without City Hall, the city is cautious in seeking a long-term solution.

Any ridesharing company has to apply to the Passenger Transportation Board for a licence or allow only licensed vehicles to operate under its name.

Meanwhile, among the recommendations for improving taxi service is ending the freeze on new taxi licences by issuing peak period licences for 99 local and 38 suburban taxis. As well, fines and other means of reducing unauthorized taxi pickups would be increased. The city cited a report indicating that nine to 16 per cent of taxi fares on Friday and Saturday nights go to unlicensed suburban taxis.

Also included in the recommendations is the possibility of introducing destination-specific taxi stands to help connect passengers and drivers who want to travel the same route.

Customer safety is also mentioned, and the report suggests that drivers take courses every five years to be certified in first aid.

The report also recommended that drivers of accessible taxis wait a minimum of three minutes for their passengers at pickup and also that they wait for the paramedics to arrive in the case of a medical emergency.

Other recommendations are meant to increase taxis’ environmental performance, such as the requirement that limousines meet “a minimum environmental performance standard for fuel efficiency.”

Taxi sharing is also being considered by city staff as a possible way of lightening the load on the current amount of taxis. Also under consideration is the possibility of TransLink’s Compass Card system being integrated with taxis.

Taxi sharing, however, shouldn’t be confused with ridesharing, which isn’t mentioned until close to the end of the recommendations and is addressed with caution. Although the report acknowledges that rideshares, such as Uber, have become popular in other markets, it also indicates that they raise “significant concerns about passenger safety, future taxi industry viability, and the availability of accessible service to disabled persons.”

Although the city is not completely dismissing the idea of allowing Vancouver ridesharing, it may yet be a while before Uber comes to Vancouver.

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